Sophie Yates

Bach: Complete English Suites

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Bach: Complete English Suites Review

by James Manheim

Bach's English Suites, BWV 806-811, were not known by that name during his lifetime; the name comes from a notation by one of his sons on a manuscript copy of the works. It's not clear what was supposed to be English about them; they are, in fact, French suites or suites of the French court dances that spread across Europe in the late 17th century. They're a bit more French than Bach's own French Suites, BWV 812-817; each one has a prelude, a form characteristic of French lute music, whereas the French Suites consist of only dances. Some performers emphasize the dance rhythms while others adopt what might be called heroic Bach mode, with its emotive readings of the slow sarabandes. Harpsichordist Sophie Yates' readings avoid both these tendencies, cultivating clean, direct lines. This has the advantage of emphasizing the final gigues, which are mostly dense and brilliant contrapuntal edifices; listen to the very last one from the sixth suite for a good taste of Yates' precise touch. She avoids a big, sustained sound, even though such a thing would have been quite possible with her copy of a 1626 Ruckers instrument. The clear sound from the Wiltshire Music Center ideally backs Yates' reading, which will greatly please listeners who like their Bach without a filter in the shape of a performer.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Suite I, BWV 806 in A major
1 Sophie Yates 02:51 Amazon
2 Sophie Yates 06:28 Amazon
3 Sophie Yates 01:57 Amazon
4 Sophie Yates 03:42 Amazon
5 Sophie Yates 04:27 Amazon
6 Sophie Yates 05:08 Amazon
7 Sophie Yates 03:11 Amazon
Suite II, BWV 807 in A minor
8 Sophie Yates 05:07 Amazon
9 Sophie Yates 04:51 Amazon
10 Sophie Yates 02:04 Amazon
11 Sophie Yates 04:01 Amazon
12 Sophie Yates 05:19 Amazon
13 Sophie Yates 03:48 Amazon
Suite III, BWV 808 in G minor
14 Sophie Yates 03:24 Amazon
15 Sophie Yates 04:37 Amazon
16 Sophie Yates 02:39 Amazon
17 Sophie Yates 03:45 Amazon
18 Sophie Yates 03:38 Amazon
19 Sophie Yates 03:05 Amazon
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