|Comments:||Alastair Asher said:|
A recording of Bach's trio sonatas for obbligato harpsichord and viola da gamba. Trevor Pinnock plays the harpsichord and Jonathan Manson the viola da gamba. First thing to say is that the recording is far, far too close. The percussive sound of the harpsichord is overwhelming, and really grates after a while. This is very disappointing, because Avie have shown they can record harpsichords properly, in Pinnock's last recording with them. The whole sound is incredibly loud, which is not appropriate for these two relatively light, quiet instruments, and it brings out an intensity not right for this elegant music. Turn the volume down before playing.
The performances themselves are good. Trevor Pinnock has lost none of his virtuosity even at the age of 59, but his touch does not sound as easy in the fast movements as it once did, as though the harpsichord has a slightly heavy action or his hands were a bit cold. I also think it would have been nicer to see a bit more inventive continuo and ornamentation - he is usually excellent at this; one only has to listen to the violin sonatas he recorded with Rachel Podger to see this. Here it is quite dull though.
Jonathan Manson, who I gather is in his 30s or something like that, is a marvellous performer. His playing is beautiful and the tone rich and expressive, with the judicious use of vibrato. His virtuosity is assured in the fast movements, especially in the D major sonata. I went to see Pinnock and Manson perform these in London (and a few other pieces) and it was a pleasure to behold.
The B minor flute sonata BWV 1030 is here included in a mysterious version handed down in G minor, with only the harpsichord part present. This has led to the usual practise of using whatever other instrument can reasonably play in that range, and in this case, the viola da gamba fits the bill well enough. It is good, and as far as I know, unique.