Not much is known about Pieter Bustijn - not even for sure where
his family came from or what language he spoke. The CD booklet
reproduces the original frontispiece from the first publication
in 1712 of this volume of Suittes, his only known works,
which gives his name as 'Pierre Bustin'.
What is certain is that this is a disc that no lover of Baroque
or harpsichord music in general should be without: nearly eighty
minutes of enormously appealing, high-octane invention superbly
rendered by Alessandro Simonetto on a magnificent reproduction
Ruckers instrument, brilliantly captured by the sound engineer
- all that at Brilliant's bargain price!
Five of the Suittes are in five movements, one in six, two in
seven and one in eight. The basic pattern is Preludio - Allemanda
- Corrente - Sarabanda - Giga, sometimes with a Variatio tagged
onto the end, with or without an inserted Aria, and a Gavotta
occasionally replacing the Giga. Listening to eighty minutes
of solo harpsichord is not always recommendable, but many will
surely find themselves unwilling to press the Stop button -
either that, or time will fly past unnoticed. Only one movement
of the 53 in total is three minutes long, and many come in at
well under a minute - there is no time to lose interest! Instead
the listener is swept along on the tide of Bustijn's imagination.
According to the notes, these Suittes were well known in northern
Europe in the 18th century, and Johann Sebastian Bach may have
been familiar with them. There are similarities here and there
with Bach's keyboard music, but Bustijn is a generation older
than Bach, and his style is in any case original and distinctive.
Simonetto's tempi are almost universally on the fast side, which
only adds to the thrill of Bustijn's ravishing music.
As well as being an accomplished harpsichordist, Simonetto is
also a sound engineer - this disc was recorded and mastered
by him - and he is founder of OnClassical.com, KunstderFuge.com
and ClassicaLand.com, all worthy online art music projects.
Apart from the recording details, which had to be mechanically
recovered from OnClassical.com, where a download-only version
of the disc is available, the booklet is as informative as it
can be about the Suittes and their elusive composer, given the
dearth of reliable historical data. The harpsichord is a 2008
model by William Horn based on a mid-17th century Johannes Ruckers
instrument made in Antwerp - the booklet says in 1638, the website
1643. Two of these Suittes have been recorded previously: no.5
by Bob van Asperen (Sony Classical Vivarte 46349, 1991), and
no.6 by Jacques Ogg (Globe 5101, 1993) - but this superlative
recording by Simonetto is the one to get.
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