The CD combines Bach's Goldberg Variations with the Metamorphosis of Philip Glass and offers a confrontation between two completely different musical worlds.
When it came time for Johann Sebastian Bach to publish his Opus 1, what work do you think he picked? One of the sacred cantatas? One of the Brandenburg Concertos? One of the cello suites? No, none of the above. In 1726, Bach chose his B flat major Partita to start his publishing career – and once a year for the next five years, he published five more partitas, then collected them under the title Clavier-Übung in 1731. When it came time for Hungarian pianist András Schiff to make his major-label debut, what work do you think he picked? Yes, that's right. In 1985, Schiff released his recording of the complete partitas – and followed it with many more Bach recordings over the next few years until he'd released nearly the complete canonical works by 1996. And yes, Schiff's partitas are wonderful.
Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr here assemble all the viola da gamba sonatas written by three composers born in the propitious year of 1685: one each by Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and three by JS Bach. Isserlis plays them on the gamba’s modern cousin, the cello, and the microphone loves his playing, picking up all the nuances and scampering asides from his soft-spoken instrument which can sometimes get lost in big concert halls. Egarr on harpsichord matches Isserlis’s eloquence and rambunctious energy all the way. The dreamy, airy slow movement of Bach’s Sonata in G minor brings telling use of vibrato as Isserlis circles around Egarr, his playing at once idiomatic and soulful. An extra cellist reinforces the bass line in the Handel and Scarlatti, in which the composers give the harpsichordist only a framework; Egarr’s imaginative realisations ensure that even when Scarlatti is at his most repetitive, he is never dull.
Avant garde. Eccentric. A maniac. Wild and adventurous. Off the wall. Extraordinary. No marketing hyperbole - this is how the players of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment describe Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach and his music. One of the many children of JS Bach, CPE Bach always lived in his father’s shadow, and now is an almost unknown figure at least beyond the classical cogniscenti. How can such an unknown be considered a gamechanger? A listen to his music reveals just why – it constantly shifts, wrongfooting the listener when they least expect it with wild changes of direction and colour – it is bright, effervescent, and is a fascinating link between the music of his father (and the Baroque era) and Joseph Haydn (and the Classical era).
Speaking about Johann Sebastian Bach’s second son Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714-1788), Mozart said “he is the father, we are the children”. Indeed, Carl Philipp Emanuel is one of the major musical figures of this key period, the turning point between the baroque and classical aesthetics. Although he left a large body of work written for instruments of all kinds, the keyboard was always his favourite. He produced a number of collections for it, featuring numerous sonatas and freestyle works such as fantasias, a genre in which he excelled. Aline Zylberajch and Alice Piérot offer a selection of pieces for both violin and keyboard and solo keyboard, all composed during Carl Philipp Emanuel’s mature years, from the 1760s up until his death.
In a church in a quiet northern Italian town survives a hidden jewel: an organ dating from 1749 which is perfect for Bach’s music. In this recording, renowned Italian organist Luca Guglielmi presents a fine sequence of some of Bach’s finest keyboard works, played on the historic organ in the Chiesa di San Nicolao, Alice Castello. The programme is compiled from works by Bach collected by two eighteenth century scholars, Padre Martini and Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, which would surely have been performed in the famous Abbey of Montecassino, a magnet for musical travellers on ‘The Grand Tour’. Martini and Rust played a major role in the creation of the first collected edition of Bach’s works. Guglielmi’s neatly-structured programme includes the brilliant Fantasia Chromatica, the solemn Fuga sopra il Magnificat, the fine Fantasia pro Organo in C minor and the great Fantasia & Fuga pro Organo, as well as Preludes and Fantasias, Duetti from the Clavierübung and seven Chorales for the Catechism, all demonstrating the vivid colours of this remarkable instrument.