|Review by Jan Hanford:|
This recording pre-dates the 2001 ECM release "Morimur", also based on research of Professor Helga Thoene which theorizes that verses of hidden chorales exist in the Ciaccona from Partita BWV 1004. From the texts of these "secret" chorales and other symbolic musical devices, she proposes that the Ciaccona is an epitaph for Bach's first wife, Maria Barbara, who died while he was a way on a long trip. The cd booklet also elaborates on theories of numerical symbolism.
But, most importantly, the performance is breathtaking. I prefer this performance to the "Morimur" recording even though this is a transcription for lute. Emma Kirkby is one of our greatest living sopranos and the combination of her voice with Jose Miguel Moreno's astonishing performance on lute is not to be missed. Countertenor Carlos Mena blends beautifully. The Chaconne is track one and I find myself listening to it over and over. It's 15 minutes of sublime beauty.
The other works on the cd are Moreno's transcriptions for lute of two of Bach's works for solo violin. I find Moreno's lute technique preferable to many others I've heard. His tempos are sometimes slower which is a nice change from the "gotta play real fast to impress everyone" style of some other lute superstars. His tone is also quite gentle and the results are an extraordinary recording.
Very highly recommended.