|Review by Jan Hanford:|
This recording was released as a companion to a version with violin and piano, with Mela Tenenbaum and Richard Kapp. Each comes with a coupon to purchase the other set for $8, as an incentive for listeners to compare the different versions. I must compliment ESS.A.Y Recordings for this wonderful project, giving Bach listeners an affordable opportunity to compare two world-class performances of these works which, I feel, are some of Bach's most accessible and beautiful.
This recording with harpsichord varies greatly in sound and feeling from the performance on piano. It is equally beautiful in every way. Mela Tenenbaum's use of a violin from 1829 makes for a very different sound and, combined with the harpsichord, the result is more fragile and thin. This is not at all a negative comment, as most recordings of these works are done on original, rather than modern, instrumentation. Gerald Ranck's harpsichord performance is excellent, and his choice of varying the harpsichord stops (tone) is inspired and delightful. Mela Tenenbaum's performance is exquisite. She brings powerful clarity and equally powerful emotion to these wonderful sonatas.
Although my personal preference is for the piano, I can also highly recommend this recording with harpsichord which is definitely up among the best I've heard. If you have the opportunity to own both versions you will own two musical treasures.