Maximilian Mangold

Bach: Sonaten BWV 1001, 1003, 1005

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German guitarist Maximilian Mangold performs beautiful arrangements, or "adaptations" as he calls them, of Bach sonatas not originally written for the guitar. Mangold's attempt is successful, for these works do indeed translate beautifully to his instrument. The Sonata No. 1 in G minor reveals a bright, cleanly articulated guitar. The Fuga has an airy grace, due to the fact that Mangold does not play heavily. Same with the Siciliana: the gracefulness of his guitar sounds like bells chiming. The concluding Presto might be a familiar piece to some. The cascades of runs flow and bloom, and the piece ends with a flourish. The second piece on the album is the Sonata No. 2 in A minor, which showcases some of the best of Bach's talents. Mangold plays with the softness that is appropriate to the Grave, while the Fuga sounds like a graceful courtly dance with a twist, on the guitar instead of violin or harpsichord. The Allegro skips along, with Mangold savoring the patterns in a way that the listener really feels the music. This movement truly shows the best of both the composer and the guitarist. Sonata No. 3 in C major is less interesting for the listener, for it does not quite have the energy it needs until the very end. There is a strong emphasis on the vertical, chordal nature in Adagio, perhaps at the expense of the horizontal. The Fuga lacks the energy that a fugue requires, for it rambles and needs more attention paid to the phrasing. However, the final movement Allegro assai is a rapid, perpetual motion of music that flows like water with endless vigor. Here, one can hear both the vertical and horizontal aspects of the piece, and it is certainly exciting. Thus, one must commend the guitarist and his adaptations while overlooking a few flaws on an overall enjoyable album.

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