Bach: English Suite No. 3 in G minor BWV 808; French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor BWV 903; Preludes and Fugues BWV 846, 876, 881

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: English Suite No. 3 in G minor BWV 808; French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor BWV 903; Preludes and Fugues BWV 846, 876, 881
PERFORMER: Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 435 795-2 DDD
Trevor Pinnock’s way with the keyboard music of Bach, among many others, has long been admired, and this new issue will doubtless enhance his reputation further. From the very start of the G minor English Suite, his qualities of clarity and apparently effortless virtuosity are well to the fore. There is a delightful, almost waltz-like bounce to the Prelude which immediately captivates the ear. A thoughtful vitality is brought to the two final dances in the suite and, most memorably, to the Gigue finale of the fifth French Suite.

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This said, I do have reservations about Pinnock’s playing. Many will enjoy the straightforwardness of his approach, heard at its purest in the Prelude to the first Fugue of The Well-Tempered Clavier, but I prefer my Bach to be a good deal less predictable. That Pinnock can be daring and unpredictable is clear in a marvellous performance of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, but elsewhere I found my attention wandering. The recorded sound is also a touch worrying. Individual registers of his Hemsch copy sound well enough, but coupled together they can seem to attack the ear. But there will be many who will enjoy Pinnock’s admirable directness and authority. Jan Smaczny