Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Flute Works
Sonata in B minor, for flute and keyboard, BWV 1030 [17:22]
Sonata in A, for flute and keyboard, BWV 1032 [12:09]
Partita in A minor, for solo flute, BWV 1013 [16:41]
*Overture (Suite) no.2 in B minor, BWV 1067 [19:35]
Daniel Pailthorpe (flute)
Julian Milford (piano)
*London Conchord Ensemble
rec. Music Room, Champs Hill, Pulborough, Sussex, England, 22-23 November 2004; *13-15 December 2006. DDD
One major review magazine ingratiatingly attributes to this recording a "restor[al of] my faith in humanity." In fact, Johann Sebastian Bach's deepest thoughts and feelings have rather been tempered by Daniel Pailthorpe and friends' account. Though a worthy recording in itself, with a surfeit of technique and expression, the presence of a modern piano immediately signals that this is a programme outside the bounds of historically informed performance. This almost seems reinforced by Champs Hill's producer, who has inserted some atypically long stretches of silence between movements - giving the works an almost Romantic character. 

There are nuances. For one, the London Conchord Ensemble has been whittled down to an intimate five members - a string quintet, in fact. Yet the smallness of the ensemble is not immediately obvious: together with Pailthorpe they do a good impression of a larger orchestra. For period practice fans this could in theory be the best of both worlds: a one-to-a-part approach that is truer than most to Bach's score, and yet a full-bodied sound. Still, any enthusiasm must be moderated by the fact that basso continuo has been done away with, and if account is taken of certain other liberties with regard to tempos, ornamentation and rhythm, purists are unlikely to find these readings acceptable: for them, this is Bach set gently adrift down the centuries.
Others, by contrast, may find Bach - or Baroque - made more palatable by these very changes! There is at any rate no denying that the wooden-fluted Pailthorpe and Milford are terrific players, and for those without preconceptions as to how these works should sound, this recording will do very nicely, especially when the reasonable pricing is factored in. Sound quality is also very good. Two minor quibbles, perhaps: that Pailthorpe has been recorded very close up in the Partita especially, and that his microphone might have been better shielded from his sometimes intrusive intakes of breath.
The English-only booklet too - downloadable for free here - is very neat, informative and well written. It includes the quotable, but otherwise inscrutable, quotation that the 'Badinerie' from the previously-released Suite is "the nearest Bach ever came to composing a musical soufflé". Possibly there are two many photos of Pailthorpe in various casual poses, especially as the London Conchord members are shrunk down to 'Borrower' size.
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Bach set gently adrift down the centuries.

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