Bach: Sonata in D minor, BWV 964; Suite in E minor, BWV 996; Toccatas, BWV 913, 914, 915

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Sonata in D minor, BWV 964; Suite in E minor, BWV 996; Toccatas, BWV 913, 914, 915
PERFORMER: Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45284 2
Here are the vivid extremes of Bach’s keyboard music: experimental and expansive (Hantaï), mature and terse (Suzuki). For all the booklet notes’ assertions of ‘mastery’ or ‘ability to transcend techniques inherited from the past’, the toccatas from around Bach’s Weimar period are exuberantly youthful – capricious texturestic vase, an adagio tests the (unspecified) temperament to its limit in the obscurity of E flat minor before an extensive allegro. Hantaï superbly portrays the expressive extremes of these irrepressible pieces. Two are originally for other instruments: the ‘Lautenwerk’, a gut-strung harpsichord, no longer exists; and BWV 964 is a solo violin transcription.

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Capricious texturestic vase, an adagio tests the (unspecified) temperament to its limit in the obscurity of E flat minor before an extensive allegro. Hantaï superbly portrays the expressive extremes of these irrepressible pieces. Two are originally for other instruments: the ‘Lautenwerk’, a gut-strung harpsichord, no longer exists; and BWV 964 is a solo violin transcription.

Suzuki, by contrast, plays the most tautly structured Bach. The harmonic pattern of the endearing Air from Anna Magdalena Bach’s personal notebook underlies 30 variations. Every third one is a canon – a melody generating its own counterpoint by imitation in a second part – each at a wider interval than the last and, as if that were not challenge enough, the central two are inverted with the imitating part upside down. Suzuki makes light of the technical demands – hands crossing, finger-knitting polyphony, dazzling part more time to unravel denser counterpoint. Strangely, he disfigures some canons by ornamenting only one line, and five variations distort Bach’s pacing.

Suzuki, by contrast, plays the most tautly structured Bach. The harmonic pattern of the endearing Air from Anna Magdalena Bach’s personal notebook underlies 30 variations. Every third one is a canon – a melody generating its own counterpoint by imitation in a second part – each at a wider interval than the last and, as if that were not challenge enough, the central two are inverted with the imitating part upside down. Suzuki makes light of the technical demands – hands crossing, finger-knitting polyphony, dazzling part more time to unravel denser counterpoint. Strangely, he

Capricious texturestic vase, an adagio tests the (unspecified) temperament to its limit in the obscurity of E flat minor before an extensive allegro. Hantaï superbly portrays the expressive extremes of these irrepressible pieces. Two are originally for other instruments: the ‘Lautenwerk’, a gut-strung harpsichord, no longer exists; and BWV 964 is a solo violin transcription.

Suzuki, by contrast, plays the most tautly structured Bach. The harmonic pattern of the endearing Air from Anna Magdalena Bach’s personal notebook underlies 30 variations. Every third one is a canon – a melody generating its own counterpoint by imitation in a second part – each at a wider interval than the last and, as if that were not challenge enough, the central two are inverted with the imitating part upside down. Suzuki makes light of the technical demands – hands crossing, finger-knitting polyphony, dazzling part more time to unravel denser counterpoint. Strangely, he disfigures some canons by ornamenting only one line, and five variations distort Bach’s pacing.

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disfigures some canons by ornamenting only one line, and five variations distort Bach’s pacing.