A Bach Notebook - Jonathan Freeman-Attwood - AllMusic.com
15 April 2013AllMusic.com
Trumpeter Jonathan Freeman-Attwood points out that he does use techniques drawn from the world of historical performance, and he doesn't sound anything like Maurice André. But in the main this release has to be classified with the recordings that go to the opposite pole from historical performance, and indeed the booklet uses the term "unhistorical" as a description. Freeman-Attwood and pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar, who did the arrangements, play music by Johann Sebastian Bach and other members of the Bach family on trumpet and piano. The effect of this is difficult to describe, partly because it's so far from any way Bach has been played before, even in pure modern-instrument approaches. But what makes it even more slippery is the fact that the combination has a different effect in each piece. With regard to Johann Sebastian Bach, the alteration the players wreak on the source material varies from chorale settings (fairly minor) to fundamental (the Prelude and Fugue for organ in G major, BWV 541, where the balance among the voices is something Bach would hardly have recognized). On top of this, there are no fewer than ten other members of the Bach family involved, from the commonly heard ones like Johann Christian Bach to the almost completely unknown (Gottfried Heinrich Bach). The players go back to the early musical manifestations of the Bach clan in the early 17th century (the Bachs other than Johann Sebastian are presented roughly in chronological order). This again lends the trumpet and piano a great variety of roles. In the little Sonata in F major of Johann Heinrich Bach (1615-1692), the trumpet's role is not far from its familiar sound in brass music of the late Renaissance. In the likes of Johann Christian Bach, however, its effect is strange indeed. If it sounds as though there's a lot going on here you're right, there is. But for sheer originality this has to take some kind of prize.
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