Ouvertures-Suites, BWV 1066-1069
Ensemble Masques/Olivier Fortin
Alpha Classics ALPHA 832 77:31 mins
From solo instrumental works to introductory choruses in cantatas, Bach revelled in the seductive style of the French Overture. His four orchestral Overtures, as these suites were known in Germany, have a variety and scintillating approach to instrumentation that puts them on a par with the Brandenburg Concertos.
Ensemble Masques, directed by Olivier Fortin from the harpsichord, comprises ten players. Their slender forces and predominantly fast tempos may not appeal to listeners favouring the ‘grand manner’ in these works, but these performances are both vibrant instrumentally and wonderfully responsive, as is clearly evident at the start of the first Overture with understated dotted rhythms underpinning some beautifully-shaped phrasing in the upper voices. The instrumental contribution is delightful throughout with plenty of ear-catching detail, notably Julien Debordes’s superb bassoon playing. Mathieu Loux, the oboe soloist – rather than the customary flute – in the second Overture, is also magnificent; his subtly unequal phrasing in the famous ‘Badinerie’ is a rare delight.
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