With his 2017 release on Erato, Jean Rondeau illustrates the beginnings of the harpsichord concerto, which can be traced from the Baroque masterpieces of Johann Sebastian Bach through the early Classical period, represented here by works of his sons, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, and Johann Christian Bach. While this celebrated musical dynasty contributed to many forms in the 18th century, the keyboard concerto was given a special, innovative treatment by the Bachs, who effectively put the genre on the map.
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.
Janine releases a brand new Bach recording, joined by a hand-picked group of friends – all exceptional musicians. This is energising Bach which is lustrous, new and vital made available in vivid, full studio-quality, sound.
Fans of Angela Hewitt will be delighted to find her in chamber mode, accompanying Andrea Oliva (described as ‘one of the best flutists of his generation, a shining star in the world of the flute’ by Sir James Galway) in a programme of J S Bach’s flute sonatas (including one by his most famous and talented son, CPE). Of unfailingly remarkable quality, all these works exploit the full potential of an instrument which was only just coming into its own when they were written. Oliva’s lyricism and agility coupled with Hewitt’s musicianship—not to mention her lifelong rapport with Bach’s music—make this an album to treasure.