COMPOSERS: Bach,Böhm,Lully,Reincken,Ritter & Fabricius,Zachow
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Js Bach & the Möller Manuscript
WORKS: Works by Bach, Zachow, Böhm, Reincken, Lully, Ritter & Fabricius
PERFORMER: Carole Cerasi (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1055
The Möller manuscript is a collection compiled by Bach’s elder brother, effectively his ‘guardian’, which makes clear that the teenage composer was a product of nurture as well as nature, living in the environment of a Europe-wide tradition. Carole Cerasi’s 11 selected items intersperse early Bach with music by older contemporaries and two of his predecessors.
She divides her recital between two contrasting harpsichords, one full of extrovert sparkle, the other subtly restrained, introspective, and with a richer sonority. Each occupies extended sections of the disc, so the ear becomes thoroughly familiar with their respective personalities. They’re very well recorded, too.
Of four ‘variation suites’, each movement adapting a common harmonic scheme to its respective dance rhythms, two are new to the current catalogue – those by Ritter and Zachow. All are played with delightful fluency, with imaginative ornaments decorating rather than distorting the line. Only in Lully’s familiar G major Chaconne is pulse and direction broken by rather predictable breaks between the short phrases. Of Bach’s contribution, I specially enjoyed the Toccata, BWV 912a, and Cerasi’s subtle articulation of inner lines, helped by the harpsichord’s layers of contrasting tone at different registers.
A most attractive disc, showing the young Bach was no isolated genius. George Pratt