Bach: Sonata in D minor, BWV 964; Sonata in A minor, BWV 965; Sonata in C, BWV 966; Sonata in C, BWV 968; Fugue in B flat, BWV 954

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Sonata in D minor, BWV 964; Sonata in A minor, BWV 965; Sonata in C, BWV 966; Sonata in C, BWV 968; Fugue in B flat, BWV 954
PERFORMER: Andreas Staier (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-21461-2
Don’t be deceived by the cover: these are not Bach sonatas languishing in obscurity, but transcriptions by or attributed to Bach, plus several movements completed by Andreas Staier. The selection includes two sonatas and a fugue based on works for two violins, gamba and continue by Johann Adam Reinken, the Hamburg organist Bach admired in his youth, together with arrangements of two of Bach’s solo violin sonatas — works which he was reported to have played at the keyboard. To say these are not Bach originals is not to demean them — after all, many of Bach’s masterpieces are transcriptions. But the Reinken arrangements are almost certainly early works, and they present a curious hotchpotch of styles: the Italian sonata da chiesa mixed with the French Suite and a liberal dash of Teutonic counterpoint (the precocious Bach, predictably, rewriting poor old Reinken’s humble fugues). Staier’s playing is energetic, muscular, incisive; his perspective broad and stately. At times I could have wished for a little more delicacy and elasticity to offset grandeur with intimacy, but there’s no doubting the impressive bravura and dazzling virtuosity of these performances. An unusual project, offering an interesting insight into Bach’s musical formation and his keyboard style. Kate Bolton

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