La Famille Rameau

Justin Taylor harpsichord & piano
Alpha Classics Alpha 721

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Justin Taylor’s La Famille Forqueray now has a sequel of the highest standard. This programme includes a number of Jean-Philippe’s more popular pieces and music by one of his sons, his younger brother and a nephew. In addition there are two tributes: a set of variations on Les sauvages by J-F Tapray and (pause for fanfare and drumroll) Debussy’s Hommage à Rameau. This is played on a lovely 1891 Erard piano, a worthy complement to the fine double-manual harpsichord attributed to Donzelague used for the bulk of the programme.

Such splendid instruments deserve splendid playing and from the multiple-award-winning Justin Taylor they certainly get it. He is not afraid to go his own way with the ‘standards’ (though I did find his tempo for J-PR’s famous gavotte a little ponderous, even if the variations did not disappoint) and unfamiliar repertoire has been well chosen and thoroughly prepared.

Taylor also wrote the contextualising essay (the booklet is in French, English and German) though I doubt that it was his decision to print his biography as a page all in upper case type! This looks quite bizarre and is actually difficult to read.

But the playing and programme are tremendous. Treat yourself!

David Hansell

Sheet music

New editions from Henle: Beethoven & Rossini

Beethoven: Klaviersonate Nr. 27 e-moll, Opus 90

Urtext edition by Norbert Gertsch · Murray Perahia
Fingering by Murray Perahia
G. Henle Verlag, 2017. HN1124
ISMN 979-0-2018-1124-6

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]edicated to Moritz von Lichnowsky, the E minor sonata – described as a contemporary as “aside from two passages, one of Beethoven’s easiest” – consists of two movements, the first a troubled piece in sonata form whose innocent opening gives no hint of the searching doubt to be explored as the composer’s imagination takes flight, and a rondo in the major key which, though not without drama, is far more tuneful, the calm after the storm, as it were. After the introduction which details the work’s history and hidden story (which explains the opening movement’s tumultuous character), a separate text by Perahia discusses its structure (both are given in three languages); as seems to be the norm for Henle, the critical notes after the edition itself are restricted to German and English. The score is beautifully laid out, with footnotes drawing attention to aspects of performance practice and possible variant readings in the autograph source. Even if you have the complete sonatas on your shelves, this pristine version will be a valuable addition to your collection.

Rossini: Une larme

Urtext Edition by Tobias Glöckler
G. Henle Verlag, 2017. HN571
Score (v+4+2pp) and part (Urtext and fingered/bowed).
ISMN 979-0-2018-0571-9

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]obias Glöckler’s edition of this short lament from 1858 was inspired by the discovery of a second autograph manuscript in St Petersburg, which helped to date its composition. His informative introduction is given in French and German, as well as English, but there are no critical notes in French. The musical text is given twice, once in A minor (for bass in standard orchestral tuning) and again a tone higher for the brighter solo tuning. The solo part (a single sheet) has the clean Urtext version on one side and the editor’s minimal additions on the reverse; in other words, help where it might be needed without unnecessary interference. From a practical point of view, this consists of fingering and bowing marks, one suggested extra slur (Rossini already marks the phrasing), and the replacement of the original’s tenor (C4) clef with the treble (G2) clef expected nowadays when the music goes beyond ledger lines. Footnotes offer further performance advice. All in all, an excellent little edition, worth every cent.

Brian Clark


Sonya Bach plays J. S. Bach

Keyboard Concertos, Italian Concerto
Sonya Bach piano, English Chamber Orchestra, [John Mills]
103:02 (2 CDs in a standard jewel case)
BWV971, 1052-56, 1058

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hese are rather exaggerated performances, recorded on two occasions – March 2014 and February 2015 – in St John’s Smith Square. Sonya Bach is a young Korean pianist who plays a Steinway and is photographed for the cover draped over it.

She is clearly in love with it, and has been playing since the age of two; and also with J. S. Bach, whose contrapuntal writing she had mastered by the age of 10. Her performances are mostly in the vigorous style, with heightened dramatic accents and rather exaggerated dynamics, including some pretty extreme crescendos and diminuendos. The ECO strings play neatly, but neither they nor she are as aware of HPP as – for example – Sebastian Knauer, playing concertos in Bach & Sons 2, with the Zürcher Kammerorchester reviewed above.
If you like your Bach Klavier concerti with this scoring and style, you may be seduced by these sounds, but I’m not very keen on this approach. 2422

David Stancliffe

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