MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around   2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV903 (?1717-23) [12:09]
Aria variata “alla maniera italiana” in A minor, BWV989 (c. 1709) [14:18]
Fantasia in C minor, BWV906 (?c. 1738) [5:02]
Concerto in the Italian Style, BWV971 (1735) 13:06]
Overture after the French Manner in B minor, BWV831 (1735) [27:00]
Steven Devine (harpsichord)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, September 23-25, 2013

This is a fabulous recording of a strong, clear harpsichord, a Colin Booth from 2000 after a single-manual instrument by Johann Christof Fleischer, Hamburg, 1710. A is at 415Hz. Steven Devine is Professor of Early Keyboard at Trinity Laban (London); he has recorded a noted Goldberg Variations for Chandos (CHAN0780: see review). This disc includes some favourites, with Bach’s “other” set of variations (BWV989) and the expansive French Overture, BWV831.

The well-loved Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue begins with a nicely improvised feeling, although Ralph Kirkpatrick’s DG account (remembered fondly from gatefold LP days) holds more drama. Sadly, the Fugue comes across here as rather ploddy.

Devine has redistributed some chords of BWV 989 for this recording: this is the only designated variation work in Bach’s output work aside from the Goldbergs. It begins with a dignified aria. Clarity is of paramount importance: Variation III is a positive delight, while the rapid-fire Variation VIII is wonderfully crisply done.

The short Fantasia in C minor, BWV906 is a tremendous piece (there is also a 48-bar fugal fragment associated with this piece that is not included here). Devine finds lovely trills interspersed between the dramatic descending minor-mode gestures; it acts as a perfect aperitif to the famous Italian Concerto. Sadly, the first movement of the Italian Concerto lacks a bit of life. Some agogic hesitations which threaten to interrupt the rhythmic flow, too. Those difficult-to-bring-off accompaniments to the central panel sound a little ploddy; the right hand has the right idea, with plenty of fantasy. The most successful movement is the bright, lively finale, but this performance’s inability to come fully to life came as something of a surprise.

The Overture after the French Manner begins with what is often referred to as Bach’s longest single keyboard movement (it comes in here at 7:46). The performance here is one of immense dignity; the play of later movements is fully honoured, though (try the Gavottes I & II). There is energy aplenty to the Passepieds, while decorations in the Bourées are a constant source of delight. The piece does not end with a Gigue; that’s actually the penultimate movement, itself dignified as if the upwardly-rising gestures are borrowed from the “Ouverture”. The finale is actually a jaunty “Echo”, deliciously rendered here.

The order of the pieces in the notes and on the disc are different, but, that aside, Devine provides highly informed background to the programme. The performances are not entirely consistent but there is enough here to provide plenty of enjoyment.

Colin Clarke

Previous review: Dominy Clements



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount