WORKS: French Suites, BWV 812, 813, 815, 816, 817
PERFORMER: Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: SBK 60717 ADD Reissue (1975)
Initially composed in 1722 as practice pieces for his wife Anna Magdalena, Bach’s French Suites are among his most popular keyboard works – concise, easy to play and delightfully melodic. Despite the suites’ title (which was not Bach’s own), French, Italian and German influences are all discernible, though Bach integrates them within a refined and highly cogent personal style.
Gustav Leonhardt’s 1975 performances, precise yet vigorous, continue to ring with an exhilarating authority. And, in accommodating all six suites on a single, bargain-price disc, this reissue is certainly competitive. (Readers who prefer Bach on the piano should enjoy Joanna MacGregor’s single-disc set on Collins.) Graham Lock