SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

BACH: Organ Trio Sonatas, BWV 525-530 (arr. for multiple instruments) Florilegium – Channel Classics

Really slam-bang arrangements of these wonderful works, intelligently played and recorded.

Published on October 31, 2012

BACH: Organ Trio Sonatas, BWV 525-530 (arr. for multiple instruments) [Playlist follows] – Florilegium – Channel Classics multichannel SACD CSS SA 277012, 75:53 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

Those “multiple instruments” are, in varying combinations depending on the piece: flute, violin, cello, harpsichord, viola da gamba, lute, and piccolo cello, all period instruments of course. The gallant style of these pieces, so appreciated by son CPE, remain to this day among Bach’s most favorite audience works, appearing in multitudinous performances in organ recitals around the world. They are just enough non-esoteric and tuneful that inevitably feet start tapping and any number of the melodies whistled upon leaving the church/hall/wherever. These trio sonatas are examples of a form that was popular during the Baroque era, yet Bach and Handel composed relatively few of them, especially compared to their creator par excellence, Arcangelo Corelli, whose compositional output was a full 66% of his total compared to 0.7% of Bach’s!

The works were intended to instruct and prepare Bach’s oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, for the great organ career that he would indeed have, and we have three autographs, one by Bach, one by WF, and another by his stepmother, Anna Magdalena. These are spectacular works in every sense, and quite a workout for any organist, and dare I say, instrumentalist who attempts them as well. Bach borrowed from other compositions for some of them, and others found their way into yet later pieces of his as well. Arranging these for such a period ensemble as we have here is nothing new or scandalous, even though one can question whether any individual instrumental makeup would have ever done this. There is some suggestion that the scoring of BWV 1039 and the Musical Offering BWV 1079 could serve as examples for the transcription art, and this is exactly what Florilegium has done here. They have also altered the keys for range considerations as well; instead of the normal sequence of E-flat, c, d, e, C, and G we get G, e, g, e, D, and G, which is not exactly in the tonal scheme of the original if that bothers you—and it should not in these works—but which is close enough to maintain a close resemblance.

Florilegium plays with abandon and enthusiasm, just as I have come to expect based on their other albums, each of which is a jewel. Channel channels great surround sound to this band, making the aural experience a pure pleasure in and of itself. Good stuff here.

TrackList:

1. Trio Sonata for Organ no. 1 in E flat major, BWV 525 by Johann Sebastian Bach   Notes: Arranged: Richard Gwitt

2. Trio Sonata for Organ no. 3 in D minor, BWV 527 by Johann Sebastian Bach   Notes: Arranged: Richard Gwitt

3. Trio Sonata for Organ no. 4 in E minor, BWV 528 by Johann Sebastian Bach 

4. Trio Sonata for Organ no. 5 in C major, BWV 529 by Johann Sebastian Bach 

5. Trio Sonata for Organ no. 6 in G major, BWV 530 by Johann Sebastian Bach 

6. Trio Sonata for Organ no. 2 in C minor, BWV 526 by Johann Sebastian Bach  Notes: Arranged: Richard Gwitt

—Steven Ritter




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