> Bach - Transcriptions II [KM]: Classical CD Reviews- July2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Transcriptions II

French Overture BWV 831
French Suite no. 5 in G major BWV 816
Partita no. 2 in C minor BWV 826
Vera Hilger, violin, viola
Norbert Hilger, cello
Rec: September 2001, Taufkapelle der Peterskirche, Leipzig, Germany.
QUESTAND VKJK 0206 [72.41]



Vera and Norbert Hilger had a very interesting idea in transcribing some of Bachís keyboard works for the combination of violin and cello. After a successful first recording, they present here an additional selection of works. Their transcriptions bring out the essence of these keyboard pieces with a truly unique sound. While some of the music is certainly lost, what is gained more than compensates.

The disc opens with a dark sound; that of the B minor French Overture. The cello is very present here, providing an almost gloomy undercurrent for the double stops of the violin, which give a stronger sense of polyphony than the first disc this duo recorded. However, there is a bit more reverb which tends to drown the instruments just a bit.

At times the tempi are a bit too slow, and it sounds like the Hilgers are edging away from the sound they developed in their first recording - where it truly sounded like the keyboard music was being played on violin and cello. Here, in movements such as the sarabande of the French Overture, the tempo is a bit too slow, and breaks with the rest of the work. But other movements sound just right - the bourrées and the gigue, for example.

The flaws are the same as in the first recording. Many of the slower movements sound too wooden, and the violinís tone is not always spot on. It is even painfully off-key in the opening double-stops of the second partita. But when it gels, the music is excellent. The allemande of the G major French Suite shows just how this type of transcription can work. The two instruments are in symbiosis, and one can forget that this music was originally written for keyboard.

Another interesting recording, which, in spite of its flaws, shines new light on some of Bachís finest music.

Kirk McElhearn



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