JS Bach: Inventions & Sinfonias

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach: Inventions & Sinfonias
WORKS: Works by JS Bach
PERFORMER: Simone Dinnerstein
CATALOGUE NO: 88883795972

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Bach has been a constant in Simone Dinnerstein’s Sony albums, whether ‘Re-invented’ in the company of Kristjan Järvi’s genre-busting Absolute Ensemble, or woven round Schubert Impromptus. Refreshingly, she now tackles a somewhat underrated corner of Bach’s output, one often eschewed in recitals on disc or concert platform. Perhaps keyboard players see the Two-Part Inventions and Three-Part Sinfonias as ‘youthful’ works and mistakenly think that Bach’s nursery slopes, conceived to encourage both a good practical technique and compositional fluency, have nothing to teach us later in life. How wrong! And how curiously the addition of a third voice expands the musical possibilities out of all proportion compared with the simple dialogue of a two-part texture.

Sometimes, in the C major and A minor Inventions for example, Dinnerstein is apt to sound stiff and overly didactic. At the other extreme she makes a Romantically expressive meal of the C minor Sinfonia as though Schumann were unwinding armed with a post-prandial digestif.

For the most part, however, she exhibits a stylish, crisply articulated intelligence that invests the B minor Invention with a jaunty insouciance and launches rocket-like its F major cousin in a trail of incandescent sparks. All in all, a potent reminder that the composer of the St Matthew Passion and B minor Mass is also the god of small things.

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Paul Riley