J. S. Bach: Wo soll ich fliehen hin

cellini consort
65:44
Ramée RAM1911

For the most part, these transcriptions for three viols are reworkings of keyboard pieces and so are going in ‘a direction which is consciously the opposite of what was typical for Bach as an arranger’. The expert players, based in Switzerland, note that ‘many of Bach’s viola da gamba pieces are in fact rearrangements of his own works.’

They are mindful of the fact that at Weimar Bach wrote extensively for low concertante instruments, and the fugal writing of e. g. the Fantasia and Fugue BWV 905, the organ trio on Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 660 and the eponymous Wo soll ich fliehen hin (BWV 646) suits the low pitch and sonorous clarity of the viols really well. I was frequently reminded of my favourite version of the Art of Fugue by Fretwork. I find these versions more plausible than for example the Italian Concerto.

What cannot be faulted is the technical and musical skills of the three players, Tore Eketorp, Brian Franklin and Thomas Goetschel. This CD is another example of how Bach can be played in a great variety of ways on many combinations of instruments. No-one who knows the way English chamber music developed from Orlando Gibbons through to Purcell will regret hearing these dedicated players enjoying appropriating Bach’s keyboard music for their own education and enjoyment. The recording is first class and the result is a delight.

David Stancliffe