The first volume in Yuan Sheng's all-Bach series for Piano Classics focuses on works that were composed in the French and Italian styles, key influences in Bach's keyboard music and in Baroque music in general. With the exception of the four duets (which are an anomaly among the otherwise sacred organ pieces gathered in the Clavier-Übung III, and a bit of an oddity to be included here), Sheng's program illustrates the quasi-operatic, bravura manner of the Italian Concerto and the Aria and 10 Variations in the Italian Style, as opposed to the French Overture, a suite of dignified dance pieces Bach ostensibly modeled after the court music of Lully. While Sheng performs these works on a modern piano, his execution is crisp and dry, with no hint of pedal, and he plays with a clean separation of lines, to clarify all details of the counterpoint. To appreciate the finer points and the contrasts between the Italian and French styles, listeners might start at track 16 and give the Italian Concerto and the French Overture their undivided attention, before listening to the entire program for pleasure.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Aria and Ten Variations in A minor in Italian Style, BWV 989|
|Concerto in F Major in Italian Style, BWV 971|
|Overture in B Minor in French Style, BWV 831|