Lorenzo Ghielmi

Bach: Trio Sonatas

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Lorenzo Ghielmi comes from the scholarly world of organ music and construction, but general listeners shouldn't let that stop them here: this is an attractive reading of Bach's six trio sonatas for organ, written as an exercise for his son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. As always when he appropriated Italian forms, Bach did so in a kind of exhaustive way, exploring numerous combinations of form, texture, and melody. However, this bright works are among the Leipzig master's sunniest and most accessible; the Vivaldi influence is especially strong here. Ghielmi's notes (in English, German, Italian, and French) quote an anonymous 1788 writer, perhaps Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, as saying that the works were "written in such a galant manner that they are still very playable today." The challenge for the organist, in addition to mastering the variety of technical problems on hand (and foot), is to deploy the registrations in such a way as to bring out the structures of the music rather than compete with them. Here Ghielmi excels, aided by the capabilities of the marvelous small organ of the Basilica di San Simpliciano in Milan. The slow movements offer related but diverse sonorities that always seem to be revealing something new, and you can sample the third and fourth sonatas in the set, which open with a pair of slow movements, for an idea of the control Ghielmi exerts over the entire set. Rigorous yet pleasantly lyrical, this can be strongly recommended.

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