LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  March 2007

CLASSICAL March 2007

Subject:

Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias

From:

Donald Satz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 11 Mar 2007 08:57:25 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (125 lines)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
2-Part Inventions (15), BWV 772-786
3-Part Sinfonias (15), BWV 787-801

Elisabeth Joye (harpsichord)
Recorded December 2001
Released July 2004
Alpha Productions 034 [56:32]

w/Little Preludes, BWV 933-940 & 999
Fughetta in C minor, BWV 961
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 895
Bob van Asperen (harpsichord)
Recorded September 1999
Released August 2006
Aeolus 10034 [78:15]

As many readers know, the pieces on these two discs were composed by
Bach to be used by students as 'exercises'.  However, Bach's genius is
in clear display, as he was apparently unable to supress his supreme
musical mind whenver he put pen to paper.  So do put away any thoughts
that the Inventions/Sinfonias are "lesser Bach" and not to be taken
seriously.

There are many excellent recordings of the Inventions/Sinfonias, my
favorites on harpsichord coming from Kenneth Gilbert on Harmonia Mundi,
Gustav Leonhardt on Sony, Blandine Verlet on Naive and Masaaki Suzuki
on BIS.  I can't say that Elisabeth Joye's performances are on such an
exalted level, but she does offer a few outstanding qualities that demand
attention.

First, I'll get any and all reservations out of the way.  Put simply,
Joye's performances are not very interesting as she progresses through
the 'exercises'.  The primary reasons are a lack of sufficient variety
in both articulation and tempo; Joye rarely varies tempo within each
piece, so you won't hear any hesitations in phrasing or staggering of
musical lines.  It's all very straight-forward and lacking in fizz.
Another problematic area concerns Bach's faster pieces, as Joye plays
most of them much slower than the norm and thereby greatly diminishes
the visceral impact and exuberance of the music; the Inventions in D
major and E flat major along with the Sinfonia in D major are prime
examples.  Continuing along, Joye's penchant is for rounded phrasing,
and a few of Bach's pieces demand sharpened contours such as the Invention
in B flat major with its double-dotted rhythms.  Finally, Joye is not
one to explore the dark side of Bach's music; her Inventions in F minor
and B minor are particularly benign.

With the above array of negatives to contend with, the Joye disc would
seem to be one to avoid.  But such is not the case, primarily because
I have not heard a version of these works that is so luxurious, elegant
and comforting.  Basically, every aspect of the production is lush from
the rich 1993 Philippe Humeau harpsichord built on the specifications
of a Carl Conrad Fleischer model (1720) to the opulent soundstage.  This
is the essence of "Papa Bach", as he stretches out his arms to envelop
and comfort all believers.  Joye's luxurious treatment hits its peak in
the Inventions in G minor and A minor where the music is suspended on a
bed of velvet; the Sinfonia in C major finds Joye giving a wonderful
account full of love and elegance.

Having stated above that Joye tends to apply rounded contours, I should
point out that her Sinfonias in E flat major and B minor use a brisk
staccato that is very refreshing after so many smooth applications.
Other compelling highlights include the delightful optimism of the
Sinfonia in E major and the oozing warmth and acceptance of the Sinfonias
in F major, F minor and B flat major.

Turning to the veteran early music keyboardist Bob van Asperen, we
leave the world of luxury and comfort for a universe of true dialogue.
Right from the 1st Invention in C major, it is clear that meaningful
conversations are taking place, while Elisabeth Joye merely creates a
particular atmosphere.  The sense of dialogue from van Asperen continues
throughout his performances, and I can't emphasize enough how his style
makes the music come alive.  In addition, he makes subtle use of tempo
changes and hesitations that significantly add to the invention of the
music.

Concerning specifics, the bitter/sweet nature of the Invention in C
minor is incisively explored by van Asperen.  He plays the faster pieces
quickly, eliciting from this reviewer a exciting sense of tension and
exuberance; notable for this effect are his performances of the Inventions
in D major, E flat major and G major where excitement and joy leap out
of the speakers.  Want a little menace?  Look no further than van Asperen's
Inventions in E minor and B minor.  If you're seeking a frenetic performance
of the Invention in F major, van Asperen's your man.  The sole Invention
that disappoints a little is the one in B flat major where van Asperen
takes the same rounded approach as Joye; that surprised me considering
van Asperen's usual regimen.

How about van Asperen's Sinfonias?  They also constitute entirely
compelling music-making such as the pristine and lovely interpretation
of the Sinfonia in C major, the driving rhythms of the D major, the
remorse van Asperen shares with us in the D minor, and the exquisite
dialogue of the E flat major, G minor, and A minor Sinfonias.

More treasure is found in van Asperen's Sinfonia in E minor.  This piece
is a musical depiction of redemption, and van Asperen takes us from the
bottom of despair to a spiritual enlightenment.  There's no such luck
for the bleak personality of the F minor, and van Asperen gives a superb
account of life without faith.  van Asperen can also possess a bubbling
demeanor as shown in his performances of the Sinfonias in A major and B
flat major.

Not content to simply give us a "top-echelon" recording of the Inventions
and Sinfonias, van Asperen offers an additional 12 short Bach exercises
that are completely delightful with many snatches of melodies the composer
used in his more mature works.  van Asperen conveys such an enticing
range of colours, that this "simple Bach" takes on more substance than
I've ever heard in alternative recordings.

Don's Conclusions: In state-of-the-art sound, van Asperen's
magnificent recording takes pride of place in my collection of Bach's
Inventions/Sinfonias with the additional exercises a wonderful bonus.
Elisabeth Joye's performance has a very limited agenda, but she executes
it beautifully with instrument and soundstage in perfect union; if the
luxurious treatment appeals, Joye delivers the goods.

Don Satz
[log in to unmask]

             ***********************************************
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned 
LISTSERV(R) list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail 
High Deliverability Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery. 
For more information, go to:
http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager