Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: English Suite No 1

Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: English Suite No 1

Article excerpt

JS Bach English Suite No 1, BWV806--Prelude. French Suites: No 1. BWV812--Gigue; No 3, BWV814 Menuet; No 5, BWV816--Allemande; No 6, BWV817--Sarabande; Courante; Polonaise. Keyboard Partitas: No 1, BWV825--Gigue; No 2, BWV826--Sinfonia; Sarabande; No 4, BWV828--Aria; Allemande; No 5, BWV829--Tempo di minuetto; No 6, BWV830--Corrente Fred Thomas pf Odradek (F) ODRCD357 (53' * DDD)

Given Fred Thomas's multifaceted talents as a genre- and boundary-blurring composer and improviser, one would expect his first all-Bach solo piano release to embody a specific concept or angle, as indeed is the case. Thomas assembles a selection of individual dance-based movements from Bach's Partitas, English Suites and French Suites and puts them together in a running order with the ingenuity of a seasoned DJ. What is more, Thomas enhances the character of each piece through various microphone placements. For example, the C minor Partita's Sinfonia and Sarabande and B minor French Suite's Minuet are captured at a distance with ample room tone, whereas the E major French Suite's Polonaise features the kind of close-up focus typical of Glenn Gould's Bach recordings.

To be sure, you don't get acoustic changes within selections vis-a-vis Gould's Sibelius and Scriabin 'acoustic orchestration' experiments, yet the point is that ambience strongly factors into how one perceives a performance, much as theatrical lighting enhances onstage drama during individual scenes and transitions. …

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