Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Johann Sebastian Bach, Gustav Leonhardt|
J.S. Bach: English Suites - Gustav Leonhardt
Clarity, gracefulness and elegance, not austerity
Leslie Richford | Selsingen, Lower Saxony | 09/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some European critics have postulated a difference between Gustav Leonhardt, the 'father' of harpsichord playing in the Netherlands, and his pupil and fellow-countryman Ton Koopman: Leonhardt, they say, is an austere Protestant, and this can be heard in his style, whilst Koopman, a Catholic, plays naturally more sensuously. There may be a grain of truth in this somewhere, but Leonhardt's (second) recording of Bach's 'English Suites' (the name is totally misleading, they are really French in style) sounds anything but 'austere', let alone 'severe'. There is a clarity, a gracefulness and elegance here that would be difficult to match, making for a very satisfying recording. Each of the six suites, which are each in a different key, begins with a masterly prelude, played by Leonhardt with virtuoso sovereignty. The following dance movements are equally well-captured, although it would perhaps have been possible to infuse the slow 'sarabandes' with somewhat more poignancy and feeling. But this is a matter of personal taste: I happen to think the harpsichord sounds best when played languorously.
The instrument chosen here was manufactured by Nicholas Lefebvre in Rouen/France in 1755 and has been ably restored by Martin Skowronek of Bremen/Germany. The tone of the instrument is delightful, and my only query is whether it is now considered 'chic' to play Bach on an instrument of French provenience; the composer himself would presumably have used a slightly less elegant Saxon instrument. The recorded sound is, as one would expect, excellent, and I am probably stating the obvious when I add that the recording is best heard at a very moderate volume-level (presumably at a time and place when there is as little background noise as possible) - a harpsichord is not a loud instrument and should under no circumstances be amplified to grand piano proportions."