Tuesday, 1 April 2008

86. Johann Sebastian Bach - Six English Suites (c. 1725)


Title: Suites Anglaises
Performer: Christophe Rousset
Year: 2003
Length: 2 hours 6 minutes.


This is out first of several solo harpsichord collections by JS Bach. They are, all of them very impressive technically and this is definitely no exception, but it also is not one of the best. These are of course the first set of Harpsichord suites composed by Bach.

The fact that they are not Bach's best harpsichord suites does not mean they are in any way bad, we are talking about a genius here, love him or hate him, this man was one of the greatest composers and innovators of all time. And it is in the lack of innovation, not the lack of quality, that he seems to lose points here.

Ok the Preludes are very interesting, being almost little concertos for the Harpsichord, but then the whole thing is mostly of French influence, and the ghost of Couperin flies all over it, particularly in the slower movements. So get it if you really love the harpsichord, if, like me, you think the harpsichord is a bit of an inferior version of a piano, you can leave them be... and cherish that Rameau.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The use of the term English to describe the Suites was a later addition. The name is thought to date back to a claim made by the nineteenth-century Bach biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel that they were composed for an English nobleman, although no evidence has emerged to substantiate this claim. There are several striking characteristics about the English Suites. Bach includes a highly virtuosic prelude for each, in a departure from the prevailing tradition dictating a strict progression of the dance movements (Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue). By comparison, the later French Suites and Partitas are less strict in form. The Sarabande and Gigue movements in each of the English Suites is never separated by more than a single (twinned) Menuet or Menuet-like movement. Finally, the English Suites are predominantly in the minor key.

Some guy plays Bourre from suite number II... Rousset is slightly better:


blondbearnl said...

Just "discovered" this site as I would looking for something about Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, what a wealth of information! Thanks. Will add this site to my favourites.
You might like this: http://sites.nps.nl/jerome/index.cfm/site/npsmatinee/

Georg Gebel der J. : Johannes Passion. A fine piece of work. First recorder in 1997 by Ludger Remy on CPO records. I can send you the complete set with booklets.

Francisco Silva said...

Thanks for the suggestion, even if my Dutch is very rusty :)

Don't worry about sending it to me, I can find it quite easily, Thanks!

Oh and thanks for reading!

blondbearnl said...

Haha, I like that line of my Dutch is very rusty. We dominated the world somewhat, but forgot to force our languages upon other nations;-) And did not produce (m)any great or extremely interesting composers or authors either, let alone filmmakers.
Best wishes from Holland

Francisco Silva said...

Oh, being Portuguese I understand perfectly :)