Jean Rondeau

Bach Imagine

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The fashionable French harpsichordist Jean Rondeau, who has studied jazz as well as classical music, here offers a Bach recital that's something of a mixed bag. Only two of the pieces, the Italian Concerto, BWV 971, and the Suite in C minor, BWV 997, appear in their original forms; the rest are transcriptions, and one, Johannes Brahms' one-hand piano version of the Chaconne from the Partita in D minor for solo violin, BWV 1004, is a daring choice on the harpsichord. In that work there are perhaps hints of Rondeau's jazz training, and the implacable build of the variations is perhaps lost. Rondeau's name surely brings to mind the French Baroque, and his opening movements, with ornaments powerful and glittering, suggest Couperin. He has a lot of power and drive, and he brings out the antiphonal structure of the Italian Concerto, significantly the only work on the program not in the French style, clearly and brilliantly. The result is an exciting program, even if one that's a bit unorthodox, and Rondeau is clearly a talent whose future directions and harnessing will be fascinating to watch. His power and intensity can speak for themselves and did not need help from the engineers, who produce a rather harsh sound from the old Notre-Dame du Bon Secours hospital in Paris.

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