Klavierwerke – Preludes and Fugues, Fantasias, etc
Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord)
Naïve OP 30581 73:02 mins
Arranging Bach’s enormous corpus of keyboard works for a recital or recording is problematic. Bach himself helps out with the various suites and partitas arranged by key, and Rinaldo Alessandrini, in navigating his way through the wealth of Bach’s other keyboard works, takes his lead from the composer by presenting them in three groups by key: A minor, D minor and C minor. While this has undeniable logic, the listener might be forgiven for wanting some major key leavening, but this collection, taken mostly from the early 1720s, is thoughtfully assembled.
Alessandrini performs on a copy of an instrument by Dulcken, one of the greatest harpsichord makers of the 18th century, affording numerous sound combinations matched by a sympathetically resonant recording. The playing is elegantly poised with remarkable expressive range. A prime example is Alessandrini’s performance of the Prelude and Fugue in A minor from the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier: the Prelude has genuine humour, while in the long succeeding Fugue the structure is beautifully articulated with no hint of didacticism. Equally impressive is the strength with which bass lines are shaped, in particular in the Sinfonias included in each group. Among the many riches to be enjoyed is the D minor Sonata, Bach’s superb reimagining of the A minor Violin Sonata (BWV 1003); the opening Adagio opens up unsuspected vistas while the brilliant concluding Allegro has abundant thrills without any technical spills. Altogether this recording shows off much of what is best about contemporary harpsichord playing.
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