Bach: Two-Part Inventions | Sinfonias

incantati (Emma Murphy recorders, Rachel Stott viola d’amore, Asako Morikawa viola da gamba)
First Hand Records FHR122

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This delightful CD of duets and trios by Bach was recorded in May last year, and so is a fruit of the liberation from lockdown. While the chosen instruments all have associations with each other in some of Bach’s early scoring (like BWV 152, for example), hearing three friends playing together spontaneously is a delight, and reminds me of many occasions when groups like this would look in the cupboard for some Bach that would work on the instruments that happened to be at hand and set to, armed with sonatas, concertos, the Art of Fugue and chorale preludes.

One of the great delights of Bach is that you can play his music on almost any combination and it will sound terrific. Bach was an inveterate arranger and parodist of his own music as well as that of others, and his trio chamber music versions of concerto movements or the Schübler organ preludes, transcribing movements from cantatas for organ, show the way. In this selection, where keyboard music, including one of the six trio sonatas for organ, is played on instruments, the clarity and distinctness of the instrumental lines is always preserved, which makes these copy-book examples of Bach’s endlessly inventive skill in canonic and polyphonic composition a delight. I find myself smiling at each fresh take as I re-discover hidden treasures. And how much better this is in the hands of such delightful musicians than the other way round, when complex polyphonic compositions are reduced to endless percussive piano arrangements.

I enjoyed this venture, and continue to play the CD with pleasure.

David Stancliffe

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