Francesco D'Orazio / Giorgio Tabacco

Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord

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Likely composed during Bach's time in Cothen -- along with the sonatas and partitas for solo violin as well as the solo cello suites -- the Six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord raise all kinds of questions regarding performance practice (what kind of instrument should be used? what kind of strings? Baroque or modern phrasing?) and listener preference (which one do I like?). For the unindoctrinated, the best place to start is likely with a middle-of-the-road performance with regard to the progression from a purely Baroque-practice performance to a purely modern one. This Stradivarius album, performed by violinist Francesco d'Orazio and harpsichordist Giorgio Tabacco, is just such an album and, apart from the very lean liner notes, is a magnificent introduction to these great works. D'Orazio's sound is brilliant and present throughout the recording and aside from some occasional intonation mishaps in his higher register is technically superbly polished. Refreshingly, d'Orazio simply plays what's in the score rather than trying to make his performance something unique and therefore overembellished. Tabacco's harpsichord playing is equally refined and unassuming. The recorded sound is clean and focused, warm and intimate, without being fuzzy. For those listeners who have already chosen their "favorite" recording of these works, d'Orazio may not offer anything new or different apart from a nicely academic reading of the score.

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