BACH: Trio Sonatas, BWV 525-530; Prelude and Fugue in B-minor, BWV 544; Prelude and Fugue in E-minor, BWV 548 – Christa Rakich, organ/ Alice Robbins, cello and viol da gamba/ Dana Maiben, violin/ Wendy Rolfe, flute – Loft

by | Jun 29, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

BACH: Trio Sonatas, BWV 525-530; Prelude and Fugue in B-minor, BWV 544; Prelude and Fugue in E-minor, BWV 548 – Christa Rakich, organ/ Alice Robbins, cello and viol da gamba/ Dana Maiben, violin/ Wendy Rolfe, flute – Loft LRCD-1102-03, 105:00 total (2 discs) ***** [Distr. by Allegro]:

The first line of the notes to this release states “Why another recording of Bach’s Trio Sonatas?”. That’s a question I asked myself when I first received the CD. It seems that in the last year or so I have had my fill of them, from woodwind trio to organ to quintet. And now I get another hybrid, one that advertises prominently on the front cover that these are “performed on a diverse collection of period instruments”. Well, only if you consider the organ and harpsichord period instruments. In fact, four of the six are given on organ, two (nos. 4 and 5) are arranged either for harpsichord, flute, and cello, or harpsichord, violin, and viola da gamba. So this disc is not as radical as I supposed, especially if you believe (as the notes state) that most of these pieces were not intended for the organ (which I do not believe, considering Bach’s grouping of them together to be sufficient testimony that he did indeed intend them to be played by one instrument despite the disparate origins of many of the individual movements).

In fact the work may well have served as a pedagogical supplement for eldest son W.F. Bach, being composed of many different tempos, meters, and keys.  But like so many of Bach’s works, we simply do care anymore about the origins, but revel in the music. Organist/harpsichordist Christa Rakich has played each of these in a different setting and on different organs, so we get a good sample of the color inherent in not only the various organs (some, like the Taylor & Boody Op. 14 at the Clifton Forge Baptist Church in Virginia sporting a fabulously delightful glockenspiel stop) but also in the music itself.

 
For the sonatas she has chosen smaller, more intimate instruments, while for the two preludes and fugues that frame the beginning and ending of each disc (chosen merely because they were written the same year as most of the Trio Sonata) she goes for some heavy machinery that really raises the roof. In the middle of each disc we get a rendition done on the period instruments listed. All in all, despite the rather jarring (sometimes) transition in sound quality because of location change (not bad quality – just different perspectives in resonance and closeness), this is a sumptuous recording that features instrumentalists totally committed and in full command of considerable faculties, not to mention an excellent booklet in a first-class production. Highest recommendation for a job well done (but why did it take so long? — these are recordings from 2000-03!)

— Steven Ritter

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