Johann Sebastian BACH
Keyboard Works from the Cothen Period, BWV 813a, 815a, 818, 819a, 839,
840, 870a, 872a, 875a, 895, 899, 900, 901, 902, 902a, 903a, 918, 919, 924
- 931, 933 - 938, 939 - 943, 947, 948, 952, 953, 956, 957 and 961.
Robert Hill - Lute-Harpsichord
by Keith Hill (Manchester, Michigan, USA 1995) and Clavichord by Keith Hill
(after Friderici ca 1750, 1997).
recorded in the Pfarrkirche, Oberried, Breisgau - June
Hanssler CD 92.107 (2
disc set) [2'01"14]
This set is Volume 107 in the EDITION BACHAKADEMIE, jointly produced by Hanssler
Classics and the Internationale Backacademie Stuttgart. They are in the process
of releasing a comprehensive edition of the complete works of J.S. Bach which
when completed, will run to over 170 discs. This issue may therefore be seen
as part of a scholarly collection, but don't let this put you off. The only
drawback to a release such as this is relative monotony of a large number
of similar pieces one after the other, but of course the same criticism applies
to all discs of this kind.
The first disc is played on the Lute Harpsichord, and the second is played
on the Clavichord. Both instruments are modern copies of instruments made
in the !700's and unlike restorations which sometimes sound just that, both
of these instruments sound very fine indeed with a very strong, clear sound,
admirably captured by the excellent digital recording.
Robert Hill's playing of both instruments is superb, and we couldn't want
a stronger advocate for these many pieces written by Bach as teaching aids
mainly from his time spent in Cothen. This coincided with Bach's teaching
of his eldest son, Willhelm Friedmann and it is conjectured that some of
these pieces came into existence for this very purpose.
There are many other collections of studies such as this but they tended
to be written for experienced and developed players. Examples that come to
mind are The Well Tempered Klavier and the Orgelbuchlein. The collection
recorded here is for more junior hands, although the elan and complexity
of the pieces will stretch and young minds (and fingers) to the limit.
There is only one minor miscalculation with this set in my opinion, and that
is to keep each disc separate as far as the instruments used. Having taken
the wise step to utilise two different (albeit slight) tonal sounds to give
presumably a bit of variety, to then keep the instruments on separate discs
seems a bit odd, since when one is listening to the various works, the effect
of variety is lost.
On these two discs we have a selection of works as follows: Applicatio, Chromatic
Fantasy, Courante, Fantasia, Fugue, Minuet, Preambulam, Preambulam and Fughetta,
Prelude, Prelude and Fughetta, Prelude and Fugue, Sarabande and Suite. There
are therefore plenty of different forms to enjoy and although this issue
does not hold any masterpieces, and clearly is collection of pieces whose
inclusion is ensured because of the type of edition they are in, there is
much pleasure to be had from this set.
Whilst the more popular issues in this set will possibly sell more copies,
this set is not in extensive competition with many others (apart from competitive
series) and although I haven't heard any of these, I cannot imagine that
they would be any better than the current issue.
As always in this series, the documentation is first class (in four languages)
and contains detailed notes on all the individual pieces. It shows the scholarly
depth which has gone into this series, and anyone wanting these pieces in
their collections will be delighted with this issue.