Brook Street Band

Bach: Trio Sonatas

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Bach's six Trio Sonatas for organ, BWV 525-BWV 530, were composed in the late 1720s. Bach made the connection with the true trio sonata explicit, calling them "sonatas or trios for two keyboards [i.e., those of an organ] and pedal obbligato," and they may have been based on actual trio sonatas now lost. Nevertheless, transferring them back to the trio sonata group of two melody instruments plus continuo is not a straightforward process. There have been plenty of attempts. The one undertaken here by London's historical-instrument Brook Street Band represents probably the simplest approach, but even this version changes the music a bit. The chief alteration comes in the necessity of adding notes for the right hand of the harpsichord, which joins a cello on the continuo part. This thickens the texture a bit, but the biggest shift comes in passages with characteristically Bachian chromatic harmonies (check out some of the harmonic sequences in the first movement of the Trio Sonata in C minor, BWV 526, track 4), where the clashes become intense indeed. In general this all-female British group, which here releases its first Bach recording, has a bright but not jittery, straightforward sound that respects the Italian origins of the trio sonata genre without going to operatic extremes. The Baroque playing is fun, in a word, and has attracted lots of fans, but they're not well supported here by Avie's engineers; the sound is unpleasantly close up and wiry. Booklet notes by the estimable cellist and founder Tatty Theo are in English, French, and German.

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