Bob van Asperen

Lessons with Bach

(CD - Aeolus Music #10034)

Review by

The cover of this album, with its fair-haired and rather too enthusiastic child receiving instruction at the harpsichord, may be a bit on the cute side, but this disc from Dutch harpsichord stalwart Bob van Asperen stands out from the crowd of other recordings of the Two- and Three-Part Inventions for keyboard, otherwise known as Inventions and Sinfonias. Van Asperen was a student of the great harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt, and his Bach playing is in the Leonhardt vein: not overemotional or very dramatic, but technically flawless and somehow attuned to the intellectual depths of Bach's music. He has also gone beyond major repertory to unearth unknown keyboard works and provide contextual studies of them. That's what he does here with Bach's very famous keyboard music written for his most prized students -- his children. Van Asperen's booklet (very poorly translated into English) not only discusses the basic features of the music, which like the etudes of Chopin embeds profound thinking into the form of a technical exercise. He also discusses the situations under which the music was composed, and he reproduces a nice page of Bach's handwriting, a blurb in which the composer touts the virtues of the Inventions and Sinfonias. As one might expect, Bach's handwriting is meaty and sensuous, yet so ramrod-straight you could use its bottom edge for a ruler. Rounding out the disc are various other little preludes and fugues for student keyboardists. This reissued disc is a good pick for any player taking first steps into Bach, whether on the harpsichord, the piano, or something else entirely.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Two-Part Inventions (15), for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56)
1
01:24 Amazon
2
02:05 Amazon
3
01:08 Amazon
4
01:13 Amazon
5
01:30 Amazon
6
03:19 Amazon
7
01:20 Amazon
8
01:00 Amazon
9
02:21 Amazon
10
01:00 Amazon
11
01:47 Amazon
12
01:23 Amazon
13
01:59 Amazon
14
01:36 Amazon
15
01:12 Amazon
Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) (15), for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56)
16
01:37 Amazon
17
01:48 Amazon
18
01:16 Amazon
19
02:19 Amazon
20
03:21 Amazon
21
01:32 Amazon
22
02:49 Amazon
23
01:08 Amazon
24
04:06 Amazon
25
01:28 Amazon
26
02:23 Amazon
27
01:28 Amazon
28
02:06 Amazon
29
01:17 Amazon
30
01:34 Amazon
31
00:38 Amazon
32
00:53 Amazon
33
02:03 Amazon
34
01:49 Amazon
35
02:26 Amazon
36
01:54 Amazon
37
02:42 Amazon
38
01:54 Amazon
39
02:42 Amazon
40
02:05 Amazon
Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard in A minor, BWV 895 (BC L129)
41
01:00 Amazon
42
03:14 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick