In the Inventions, Jansen is an equal partner with violist Maxim Rysanov and cellist Torleif Thedéen in performances of wit, feeling, and subtle grace. In the Partita and especially its excruciatingly ecstatic Chaconne, Jansen delivers consummate musicality and surpassing emotional honesty. Decca's sound is close and evocative.
The Inventions and Sinfonias are fairly low profile works of Bach's and, unfortunately, not often performed. However, we should know that Bach did not reserve all his best composition into his larger scale pieces but also ensured that his shortest, least grandiose, pieces were put together with the same dedication and quality. And so it is with the Inventions and Sinfonias. Invention is the term Bach used here to refer to a short Prelude-like piece with two independent voices - one from the left hand one from the right which are generally working fairly independently.
Following his magnificent recording of J.S. Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias for BIS last year, the Japanese harpsichordist/organist/conductor Masaaki Suzuki here offers more revelatory performances of some of Bach's equally well known (as well as some lesser known) masterpieces. With this collection, simply titled Fantasias & Fugues, Suzuki provides a grand overview of Bach's lifelong sporadic exploration of the Fantasia genre.
The first thing to strike the listener about these 2006 Avie recordings of Bach's Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord will be how loud they are. While neither instrument is noted for its power to project, the instruments are recorded so closely here as to be gargantuan in these recordings by Jonathan Manson and Trevor Pinnock. After adjusting the volume, the second thing to strike the listener will be how brilliantly played they are.
Much of Bach's music is abstract enough that it can easily be arranged for new instrumental combinations, and often was by the composer himself. The music for unaccompanied violin and for unaccompanied cello forms an exceptional case; the sonatas and partitas for solo violin were part of a long tradition of virtuoso violin music to which Bach was making a conscious contribution, and the six suites for solo cello were written as extensions of the ideas in the violin pieces. Transferring the cello suites to a solo recorder, which is incapable of executing many details of the cello scores, is thus something Bach probably wouldn't have countenanced. ..