JS Bach¥CPE Bach

COMPOSERS: CPE Bach,JS Bach
LABELS: Orfeo
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach,CPE Bach
WORKS: Sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord, BWV 1027-1029Sonata for vola da gamba and basso continuo, H 559
PERFORMER: Daniel Müller-Schott (cello), Angela Hewitt (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: C 693 071 A
Cellists have often appropriated the gamba’s greatest achievement: the three Sonatas in which JS Bach mixed contrapuntal rigour with gallant charm, concerto urgency with heartfelt arioso. The cello might be a logical substitute, but it can never match the plaintive insouciance of its rival. Substitution also raises issues of balance; when a piano enters into the frame new temptations arise. In essence, Bach’s sonatas are trio sonatas for keyboard right and left hand, plus gamba. With harpsichord a self-regulated equilibrium naturally results. The pianist who can resist the urge to create foregrounds and backgrounds is strong indeed.

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Stylishly strong (yet with subtle flexibility) is Angela Hewitt who joins the equally period-sensitive Daniel Müller-Schott in performances – and this is not meant grudgingly – which lead the field if you insist on cello and piano. Their opening of the D major’s Adagio is serenely contemplative, its succeeding Allegro dancing with a light step, and if the Andante can’t quite match the confiding gamba inflections of a Pandolfo or Savall, the motivic delineation in the G minor Sonata (some overemphasis in the finale aside) is ear-opening. BWV 1027-9 might feel more ‘at home’ on gamba and harpsichord, but expertly reimagined as here, they make for compelling visitors. Paul Riley