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Palladian Ensemble - Bach - BBC Music Magazine

01 April 2006
BBC Music Magazine
George Pratt
4 Stars

The Palladian Ensemble recorded transcriptions of four of Bach's six organ sonatas in 2004. Twelve years on, and with a change of violinist, here are two more to complete the set - and most welcome they are. As Bach himself ‘transcribed' the whole trio-sonata genre from four chamber players (two soloists and two continuo players) to one organist (his own son, for whom he wrote them as teaching material), reversing the process is plausible. These two are played with the Palladian's customary poise and polish, though their approach is now more respectful, less risky. Tempos are moderate - the final gigue of BWV528 dances rather soberly through its triplets. Sound too is subdued, admirable when violin and recorder alternate in weaving figuration round held notes (as in the slow movement of BWV526), but elsewhere, bright violin tone masks dark, low recorder.

The much-loved Palladian exuberance bursts forth in two Leipzig chorales, silvery high recorder clearly differentiated from violin, and Rodolfo Richter provides a refreshing change of timbre with a solo violin sonata, BWV1021. There are magical colours elsewhere too: the dark chromatic line of low recorder in Das alte Jahr, the gamba obbligato of Wachet auf with recorder chorale melody, quieter than most organists would register it, but nonetheless highly effective.

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