Bach: Sei Suonate à Cembalo certato è Violino Solo

Leila Schayegh violin, Jörg Halubek harpsichord
94:54 (2 CDs in a wallet)
Glossa GCD 923507
BWV1014–19

In search of a ‘different’ approach when offering yet another period instrument recording of such well-known repertoire, ensembles often go that extra mile to make their recording stand out from the rest. Certainly the psychedelic design of both the CD box and the strobe-effect coloured circles on the discs themselves immediately does this! Reading through the notes, the players’ aim was to go in search of a wide range of colours in the music. I did at first wonder whether the listening experience might match the colour splodges on the box and go ‘over the top’. However, these two performers give us an exciting yet sensitive and generally tasteful interpretation of the sonatas.

Yes, there is much added ornamentation but (except in the case of the opening Adagio&nbps; of the C minor sonata) only those who know the works intimately will be aware of it – which is as it should be. The addition of the 4’ harpsichord stop and the muted violin (in which Schayegh uses two different types of mute) gives another acceptable touch of colour to a couple of movements, but in no way gets in the way of what is an outstanding performance of these sonatas. Halubek plays a copy of a Taskin instrument, which gives a pleasurable warmth to the sound that perhaps would not have been so evident on a German instrument. My only gripe is the use of the 4’ register on its own in the Adagio  of the F minor sonata, which gives a weird and to my mind outlandish effect. I suspect the 18th-century theorists, if not the composer himself, would have a field day criticising the false second inversion chords created where the true bass note sounds an octave higher! The bonus on the disc is the addition of the two alternative earlier movements of Sonata VI. On balance, this is a recording that is well worth the investment.

Ian Graham-Jones