Bach: Partitas, BWV 826, 828 & 829

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Intrada
WORKS: Partitas, BWV 826, 828 & 829
PERFORMER: François Guerrier (harpsichord)
The young French harpsichordist François Guerrier is a pupil of, among others, Pierre Hantaï and Christophe Rousset. As well as developing a solo career he is also a répétiteur and a builder of harpsichords. There is much to enjoy in Guerrier’s direct and unfussy playing in his first instalment of Bach’s six partitas. These works reveal Bach’s fluency with cosmopolitan musical manners and inflections, but the extent to which a performer can enliven them is a measure of his or her technical skill and expressive intuition. Guerrier enters an already densely populated arena with such rivals as Trevor Pinnock (DG Archiv and Hänssler), Andreas Staier (DHM), Christophe Rousset (Decca) and Gustav Leonhardt (EMI and DHM) offering stiff competition. While Guerrier is a stylish player with a natural affinity for French style – the Ouverture of the D major Partita comes off particularly well – elsewhere he does not always succeed in sustaining interest at the same level as the musicians mentioned above. I felt this in the stylistically eclectic Sinfonia of the C minor Partita which starts promisingly but then begins to lose its momentum. On the other hand, Guerrier is commendably scrupulous in the matter of repeats which Leonhardt, who puts up a strong defence for his view of the matter, is not. In summary, if this playing does not quite enter the uppermost reaches of the current league table it nevertheless possesses amiable features which are aided and abetted by Philippe Humeau’s fine, recently built harpsichord. Nicholas Anderson