Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

alternatively Crotchet

 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
English Suites (BWV 806-811)
CD 1
Suite No. 1 in A (BWV 806) [27:56]
Suite No. 2 in a minor (BWV 807) [21:43]
Suite No. 3 in g minor (BWV 808) [20:11]
CD 2
Suite No. 4 in F (BWV 809) [21:25]
Suite No. 5 in e minor (BWV 810) [20:57]
Suite No. 6 in d minor (BWV 811) [28:10]
Carole Cerasi (harpsichord, Blanchet-Taskin, 1757-1778)
rec. February, April 2005, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Chartres, France. DDD
METRONOME METCD1078 [70:15 + 70:40] 
Experience Classicsonline

Comparison: Bob van Asperen (Brilliant Classics) 

The keyboard suite in Germany goes back to the middle of the 17th century. Although German composers had written dance pieces before then it was only around the middle of the century that the practice of grouping these into suites began. The first keyboard suite which can be dated with any security was composed by Johann Jakob Froberger and was published in his second book of keyboard music in 1649. He was also the first German composer who had been both in Italy - as a pupil of Frescobaldi - and in France. His suites can be seen as examples of the 'goût réuni', a mixture of Italian and French elements.

The last decades of the 17th century showed an increasing interest in French music in Germany. Some composers, like Georg Muffat, went to France to study French music. At the same time French keyboard music was published in Germany. In his early years Johann Sebastian Bach avidly collected keyboard music by French masters like Nivers, Lebègue, d'Anglebert and Marchand. Here he encountered dances which were fixed parts of keyboard suites: allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue. They are also the backbone of the so-called 'English Suites'. 

These are the first set of six suites for harpsichord which Bach composed. The other two are the French Suites (BWV 812 - 817) and the Partitas (BWV 825 - 830). The latter set was the only one which was published (as Clavier-Übung I). It is not quite certain when the English Suites were composed, but it seems very likely that Bach started the set while working at Weimar. There he became acquainted with the Italian concerto style, and in particular the concertos of Vivaldi. This explains the overtures which open every suite, and which are modelled after the Italian (violin) concerto. 

The preludes are not the only extension of the standard pattern of the suite. Before the gigue, which closes every suite, another dance is included: a bourrée (Suites 1 and 2), a gavotte (Suites 3 and 6), a menuet (Suite 4) and a passepied (Suite 5), all consisting of two contrasting sections (bourrée I & II, passepied I & II, etc). In Germany these additional dances were called 'Galanterien'.

Where the name 'English Suites' comes from has been the subject of much speculation, but so far nobody has come up with a really convincing explanation. One thing is for sure, the name was not given by Bach himself. Also clear is that the character of the English Suites has nothing to do with any influence of the English keyboard style, like that of Purcell. These suites are basically French in character, but the addition of the preludes in Italian style as well as contrapuntal elements which reflect the German tradition - in particular in the gigues of the last four suites - makes them examples of the then predominant 'mixed taste'. 

Carole Cerasi plays a beautiful French harpsichord which is part of the collection of Kenneth Gilbert, one of the pioneers of performance on historical keyboard instruments. Ms Cerasi uses the two manuals well to realise the contrasts, especially in the opening preludes, where some passages seem to imitate the solo violin in Italian violin concertos. Here and in the sarabandes I appreciated Ms Cerasi's performances most. It is in the fast dance movements where I have some problems with her playing. Her often relentless hammering of the keyboard and the flood of fast notes she produces can become a little tiresome after a while. I really longed for some relaxation, more variety in articulation and more breathing space. What I find particularly disappointing is that often the rhythmic pulse is severely underexposed. Take, for instance, the menuet of the 4th Suite: one never feels that this is a menuet. Bob van Asperen, in his recording of the English Suites which I used as comparison, makes much more of it. It hasn't so much to do with tempo, as one would perhaps think: Van Asperen regularly plays at a higher speed than Carole Cerasi. A good example are the gavottes I and II of Suite No 3. Van Asperen chooses a faster tempo, but still the dance rhythm is much more pronounced and the drone in the bass has a much stronger profile than in Cerasi's performance. This has first and foremost to do with the stronger differentiation between the notes in Van Asperen's performance, which shows his thorough awareness of the baroque principle of music as a form of speech. 

Please don't get me wrong: Carole Cerasi's recording offers much to enjoy, and she is a very accomplished harpsichordist. As I have said, the slow movements fare rather well, and I enjoyed her ornamentation (Suite No 2, sarabande!), where she has found the middle ground between doing too little and doing too much. That said, it is important that the listener feels the dance rhythms, and that is where van Asperen is unsurpassed. And the emotional depth of the gigues, which often contain daring harmonies, is more strongly brought to the fore in his performance than in Ms Cerasi's.

Johan van Veen
 




 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.