Bach: Intégrale des Partitas pour clavecin

Jean-Luc Ho
(3CDs in a box)
NoMadMusic NMM016

It is such a shame when artists are let down by their packaging. Here the booklet essay, while strong on the music’s compositional context, says virtually nothing about its content and the graphic designer who thought that italic white print on grey (box) and italic black print on varying shades of green (booklet) were a good idea needs a refresher course.

[Video narrated in French!]

However, I did manage to divine the USP of this release – six different harpsichords (all modern but after German originals, at least in spirit) each tuned to a different temperament. For me, this second point is a mistake – I rather enjoy the subtle differences of harmonic character that colour the keys when the temperament stays the same – but it is enjoyable to hear the instruments’ own individual colours. Jean-Luc Ho plays with fine technique, love and understanding though from time to time there is a lack of forward impetus – more bluntly, it feels a bit slow (and it is sometimes substantially slower than other performers) almost to the point of discomfort. So this wouldn’t be my first choice in this repertoire though it does offer a valuable complementary view of infinitely engaging music.

David Hansell