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Beautiful Tone

J S Bach for guitar
reviewed by

Focus Recordings    FCR102

J S Bach: BWV 998, 1003, 1010. Daniel Lippel, guitar. © 2005 Focus Recordings

Daniel Lippel graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a DMA; he also studied at Oberlin Conservatory and Cleveland Institute of Music. He is an active performer, especially of chamber music, and has premièred works of several contemporary composers.

In his CD J S Bach, Daniel Lippel recorded three Bach compositions, two of which he arranged for guitar. The Sonata No 2 in A minor, BWV 1003 (1720), originally for violin, includes Grave, Fugue, Andante, and Allegro movements. I am used to a more lively and driving Bach; by arranging a violin piece for guitar, the performer subdues the tone considerably. Whereas the violin intensifies the expressiveness, the guitar brings out a calm, controlled, somewhat repressed, but still beautiful tone. Lippel brings out the subtle dynamic changes, creating a quiet beauty that still has the purposefulness that Bach always evokes.

In the Fugue, Lippel brings out each voice clearly. The Andante opens softly with a quiet consistency that draws the listener into its song-like melody. Lippel performs it with clarity and mounting expression [listen -- track 3, 0:00-0:58]. Finally, the Allegro has a fast lively melody. In this movement, more than any if the others, Lippel performs with such speed and strength that the piece sounds right for guitar [listen -- track 4, 2:30-3:59].

The next composition is the Suite No 4 in A major, BWV 1010 (1723), originally for cello in the key of E-flat major. It is a six-part suite with a Prelude and five dance movements. The Prelude is a short introduction, with steady downward arpeggios and harmonic changes, occasionally breaking into series of runs with trills [listen -- track 5, 1:37-2:18]. The Allemande has a character that is both invigorating, yet still calming at the same time due to its smooth metrical pace. In contrast to the Allemande and the Courante that follows, is the Sarabande, a slow, sensual, and somewhat pensive piece. It is a little longer, running at just over four minutes, and creates a slow-motion Bach experience. Lost in these renditions, however, are the lyrical singing and the growl of the cello. The Bouree I and II bring us back to the animated world again. Finally, the suite ends with a very short, lively Gigue, just under two minutes.

The last set of pieces is the Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro in E-flat major, BWV 998, written in 1740 for the lute. The Prelude opens with a stately, majestic fragment that is developed in sequences, reaching a high point, and after a break, proceeds with a slow decline to the end. As a prelude, though, its end is just the beginning, and a Fugue follows. Here again, we have a very subdued Bach, though still with dynamic variation, and with the strongest expression saved for the last part [listen -- track 12, 6:08-7:14]. The Allegro movement is purposeful with a lively pace, and even dynamics.

Bach and guitar lovers will find this recording a beautiful addition to their collection.

Copyright © 28 May 2007 Anna L Franco, New York City, USA


J S Bach: BWV 998, 1003, 1010 - Daniel Lippel, guitar

FCR102 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 57'23" 2005 Focus Recordings

J S Bach (1685-1750): Sonata No 2 in A minor BWV 1003 (originally for violin; edited Lippel) (Grave; Fugue; Andante; Allegro); Suite No 4 in A BWV 1010 (originally for cello in E flat; edited Lippel) (Prelude; Allemande; Courante; Sarabande; Bourrée I and II; Gigue); Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E flat BWV 998 (Prelude; Fugue; Allegro)



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