Phantasm - J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Consort – I - Planet Hugill

This disc is not quite what you might expect from the title. Whilst the majority of pieces on the disc are arrangements of movements from Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, not all of them are. So we start with Ricercar a3 from The Musical Offering, and other examples fromInventions and Sinfonias, the Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 547, and Clavier-Ubung III. The intention behind the disc is to take the Preludes and Fugues from the keyboard and created equal-voice polyphony from the members of the viol family.

It is a fascinating and intriguing exercise, applying older consort-style genres to the music of Bach who, whilst he wrote for instruments like the viola da gamba, did not write for the viol consort. The result has striking intimacy, and the directness and equality of the viol sound means that the interior structure of the fugues comes over in ways that one cannot always experience in keyboard versions. But this is no mere academic exercise, and the results from Phantasm are beautifully expressive and highly engaging. You might not want to hear Bach's Preludes and Fugues played like this every day, but the disc will certainly stay on my library shelves

Planet Hugill
19 January 2020