Here's a Bach disc that's unusual in two respects. First is the relationship between music and instrument. Historical instrument specialist Andreas Staier uses a reproduction of a 1734 harpsichord that wouldn't have been known to the young J.S. Bach -- the music on the program was written during the first decade of the eighteenth century. The instrument is, however, perfectly suited to the music, which is flashy, adventurous, and dramatic. Staier forgoes a perfect chronological match of instrument to music in favor of a correspondence in spirit: the 1734 instrument is a big, symphonic thing with multiple registrations that's worth hearing in itself and that convinces you Bach would have loved to get his hands on one. Second is the concept of the program itself. The division of Bach's career into early, middle, and late periods is a good deal less common than dividing it up by employer. While it's true that Bach himself would have thought about it in the latter fashion, the young composer, who was known early on as an emerging keyboard star, cycled quickly through jobs in Arnstadt, Mühlhausen, and Weimar, none of which could really hold him. Staier puts together, and delivers, a program that captures the exuberance of the young Bach, and a bonus is the fact that these pieces aren't played terribly often. Extremely obscure is the final Capriccio sopra la lontananza del fratello dilettissimo, BWV 992, the capriccio "on the Departure of a Beloved Brother," probably written in Arnstadt. The title could refer to Bach's older brother's enlistment in the Swedish army, but the work is pictorial in a way that few of Bach's other works are, and the farewell is shot through with more than a bit of mock mourning. Harmonia Mundi's engineers have done well with Staier's beast of a harpsichord, and the whole enterprise is highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Toccata for keyboard in D major, BWV 912 (BC L143)|
|O Gott, du frommer Gott, chorale partita for organ, BWV 767 (BC K95)|
|Toccata for keyboard in E minor, BWV 914 (BC L145, 163)|
|Suite for keyboard in A minor, BWV 818a|
|Toccata for keyboard in G major, BWV 916 (BC L147)|
|Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181)|