> BACH Harpsichord works Egarr CDZ5697002 [KM]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Harpsichord Works

Partita No.1, BWV825
6 Small Preludes from Johann Peter Kellnerís Collection
Fuga a Tre from Clavier Büchlein für W.F. Bach
3 Minuets from Clavier Büchlein für W.F. Bach
6 Preludes from Clavier Büchlein für W.F. Bach
French Suite No.5
Italian Concero BWV971

Richard Egarr, harpsichord
Rec: September 1995, Church of Maria Minor, Utrecht.
EMI CDZ 569700 2 [77.37]


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Richard Egarr has made many recordings and performed for several years with London Baroque, as well as accompanying many musicians in recordings of sonatas for solo instruments and harpsichord. His solo recordings include works by Bach, a complete recording of Froberger, pieces by Gibbons, Louis Couperin and many others. This recording, a rerelease of a disc first published in 1997, is a selection of Bachís solo keyboard music, and includes three major works - the Partita no. 1, French Suite no. 5, and Italian Concerto.

Egarr performs this music on a beautiful instrument - a harpsichord by Joel Katzman, after Ruckers, that brings out some amazing sounds in these works. Egarr has a light touch in many of these pieces - the first movement of the opening Partita no. 1, the opening Allemande of the French Suite no. 5 - which fit well with the tone of the instrument. Its crystal-clear sound and resonance are well-suited to this type of playing.

Yet, when listening to the Partita, one may be disappointed by the lack of variety in the tempi of the various movements. Egarr seems most comfortable in a certain mode that allows him to play a somewhat "precious" style; this is excellent in the Sarabande of the partita, but his tempi for some of the other movements, notably the Minuets, seem a bit too slow.

Egarr should be congratulated for his choice of works in this program. Combining three of the more famous works with a number of "smaller" pieces - the little preludes, the two well-known minuets from Anna Magdalena Bachís notebook, and some of the simple, yet delightful works from Wilhelm Friedemann Bachís notebook - is an excellent choice. As he points out in the notes, some of these little pieces are tiny gems, that, while brief, contain elements that are quite indicative of Bachís keyboard music.

Egarr is very convincing in the "discursive" movement of the Italian Concerto, the Andante, where, again, his style seems perfectly in tune with the music behind the music, but in the rapid Presto that closes out the disc, seems to be carried away by a rhythm he is not comfortable with.

Recorded in 1995, this disc gives a glimpse of a performer whose work deserves attention. While I am unfamiliar with his other solo recordings, this disc makes me want to hear more. Seven years after this recording, this performer has undoubtedly grown and developed. While there are some shortcomings to this disc, the selection and instrument alone make it a worthy purchase.
Kirk McElhearn


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