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In the Concertos by W. F. Bach and J. L. Krebs one can clearly hear the advent of more galant works, juxtaposed with conventional Baroque figuration. W. F. Bach's Concerto was written in Dresden between 1733 and 1746; its first movement is clearly in sonata-form, whereas the third harks back to the traditional concerto-ritornello form with 'solo' and 'tutti' parts being assigned to the two harpsichords [listen -- track 8, 0:00-0:59]. Krebs, said to be one of J. S. Bach's favourite pupils, often used his teacher's works as models, but in this Concerto the new easy-going galant style may be heard in the second movement [listen -- track 10, 4:25-5:25], marking Krebs's own compositional character.

Egarr's and Ayrton's playing serves these interesting works very well. Both players come from an English background, but both have learnt very considerably from Dutch masters such as Gustav Leonhardt. In fact, the Dutch character is in danger of becoming rather mannered on this disc. Articulations are very varied, but some staccato touch is rather over-short in places so that occasional passages (sometimes with split notes here) have a purely percussive character without much pitch being apparent. This is most obvious on upbeat quaver figures, and is not served by such a close microphone position. At times it feels as if the listener's head is right inside the instruments. I also detected someone walking across the room in between movements (the tea lady?). However, the playing is lively and full of spirit, and this disc is to be recommended. I find it curious, though, that the chosen instruments were a matched pair of Ruckers (1638) copies by Joel Katman. They do sound fine enough harpsichords within themselves, but if a maker strives to emulate the sound-world of 1638 the question is whether this is appropriate for music composed a century later. Would not harpsichords of 1738 provenance be more appropriate?


Copyright © 10 December 2000 David Ponsford, Gloucestershire, UK






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