Moving from the harpsichord to the clavichord or the organ was probably easy enough for Johann Sebastian Bach. The source of the sound didn’t matter, because for the master of Leipzig, what counted were thought and intellect: the form, tonality and melodic contours ere more important than the instrument itself. And indeed, through this work of musical thought, Bach used different keyboards, prefiguring the instruments to come: the piano as a synthesis of the harpsichord, the organ and the clavichord.
This recording brings together all the arrangements for harpsichord by Bach of instrumental concertos by his Italian contemporary Antonio Vivaldi, adding those of one concerto each by the brothers Alessandro and Benedetto Marcello. They are performed by Sophie Yates who has made a series of solo CDs for Chandos, many of which have won international awards. She has been described by Gramophone as ‘hugely talented’ and by BBC Music as playing ‘with exceptional poise’.
This 20-disc box set has been entertaining me for several months. Dutch pianist Ivo Janssen set up his own record label to distribute his 1997 Goldberg Variations, recorded on the hoof over two days in Haarlem. Its success prompted him to tackle Bach’s complete keyboard output. And there’s a sense of fly-by-night impetuosity about some of these performances, all taped in the same venue with the same producer, the cycle finally finished in 2009.