Bach: Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat, BWV 998; Suite in G minor, BWV 995; Partita in C minor, BWV 997

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: MA Recordings
WORKS: Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat, BWV 998; Suite in G minor, BWV 995; Partita in C minor, BWV 997
PERFORMER: Eduardo Egüez (lute)
CATALOGUE NO: M053A (distr. +1 818 907 9996; www.marecordings.com)
Rather in the way that the bass viol/viola da gamba enjoyed an Indian summer in France, the solo lute prospered in early to mid-18th century Germany, long after its heyday in the 16th and 17th centuries. Bach’s solo music for the instrument probably spans a period of some 30 years, and includes arrangements of pieces which he had earlier composed for other instruments. Some of the repertoire is virtuosic and not without features which must have proved daunting to lutenists of Bach’s time. Perhaps he wrote some of it, at least, for his lute virtuoso contemporary and friend Silvius Leopold Weiss.

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This new release is the first of two volumes in which Eduardo Egüez promises a complete survey of Bach’s solo lute repertoire. Clearly intended to celebrate the 250th anniversary in 2000 of the composer’s death, its late appearance in no sense diminishes accomplished and attractively presented issue. All the pieces here belong to Bach’s Leipzig period. The Suite in G minor is a transcriptionof the C minor Suite for unaccompanied cello (BWV 1011), but the remaining items were composed foremost for lute, though in the case of the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat (BWV 998) Bach himself, and a copyist in the case of BWV 997, suggest harpsichord as an alternative.

Egüez is a rhythmic player with a warmer tone than Konrad Junghänel (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi);

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but his reverberant acoustic lacks intimacy and allows for little in the way of linear clarity. The counterpoint suffers as a result, with the effect of sounding less forthrightly argued than in the disciplined hands of Junghänel or of Jakob Lindberg (BIS). Nicholas Anderson