Jean Geoffroy

J.S. Bach: Sonates BWV 1001, BWV 1003, BWV 1005

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Many potential listeners for this disc will experience a total lack of desire to hear Bach played on a marimba, or will conclude that Milt Jackson's vibraphone Bach on the old albums of the Modern Jazz Quartet says enough on a closely related subject. They don't know what they're missing. French marimba player (or, as he prefers, percussionist, familiar with numerous instruments and applying their lessons to the present performance) Jean Geoffroy devises a range of marimba sounds that is fully appropriate to, and even sheds new illumination upon, the fascinating implied polyphony in Bach's sonatas for unaccompanied violin. Each register of the violin has its highly imaginative counterpart on the marimba: sample the murky opening of the Andante in the Sonata No. 2, BWV 1003, evoking the violin's lowest string, or the resounding brilliance of the subsequent Allegro. The unaccompanied sonatas may, it's true, be unusually well-suited to performance on the marimba as opposed to other Bach works, but it's also true that successful adaptations of these works to instruments external to Bach's world are particularly rare. These performances are not novelties but thoroughly thought-out efforts that engage themselves with Bach's music at a very deep level and carry the cerebral yet meditative quality that is the mark of enduring Bach performances. An uncommon pleasure, and worth purchasing in tandem with Geoffroy's Marimba'ch album, featuring his take on the giant Chaconne from the Partita No. 2 for solo violin in D minor, BWV 1003.

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