Keyboard Works, Vol 1: Partita in A minor; Fugues, Krebs-WV 843-848; Concerto in G
Steven Devine (harpsichord)
Resonus RES 10287 72:00 mins
Harpsichordist Steven Devine here embarks on the first of a four-part odyssey exploring the complete works of JS Bach’s student, Johann Ludwig Krebs – the most gifted member of an important German musical dynasty.
The mainstay of the disc is the substantial A minor Partita which encapsulates Krebs’s style in its synthesis of Baroque and galantidioms. The shadow of Johann Sebastian hovers over several movements – notably, the improvisatory ‘Fantasia’ and the rigorous ‘Fuga’. Devine despatches the former with real bravura and illuminates the latter with glassy clarity. To the brooding, Bachian ‘Sarabande’ he brings a sense of poetry. By contrast, a lighter, gallant air wafts through the ‘Allemande’, ‘Bourrée’, ‘Pastorelle’, ‘Menuett’ and ‘Gigue’, Devine responding with playing by turns graceful, sprightly and ingenuous.
In the six fugues that form the centrepiece of the programme, Krebs similarly buoys up the stile antico genre with wit and grace – qualities Devine clearly delights in. These little jewels are luminously showcased on the harpsichord: a copy by Colin Booth of an early 18th-century instrument by German maker Johann Christof Fleischer. Its delicate, silvery timbre is beautifully captured by the recording engineers.
Finally, Devine highlights the antitheses of the G major Concerto ‘in the Italian taste’ – a work that nods to Bach more in name than style. Frothy and jocose outer movements frame an introspective and faintly exotic Andante. It concludes a felicitous programme, meticulously realised, that sheds light on Bach’s talented pupil.