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Bach & The Early Pianoforte / Luca Guglielmi

Bach,J.s. / Guglielmi
Release Date: 03/25/2014 
Label:  Piano Classics   Catalog #: 62   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Preludium in C, BWV 846/1 . Toccata in c, BWV 911 . Praeludium in E? , BWV 1010/1 . Prelude for Cembalo, BWV 998 . Praeludium in c, BWV 999 . Partita in c, BWV 997 . Sonata in a, BWV 1003 . Sarabande in g, BWV 995/4 Read more Luca Guglielmi (fp) PIANO 62 (66:47)


As a keyboardist, Johann Sebastian Bach clearly deserves the renown that he attained even during his lifetime, for his compositions and facile playing style. Although much has been recorded on both organ and harpsichord, Bach’s relationship with the newer or more unusual instruments, the fortepiano and clavichord (which, of course, was not so new in the early 18th century), has been the subject of some scholarly work. To be sure, the harpsichord came in a rather substantial variety of forms, and certainly the terms often used during the time, “cembalo” or “Klavier,” were mostly generic rather than instrument-specific, but Bach himself had some interest in the newer keyboards. For example, he sold a Silbermann fortepiano in 1749, a couple of years after he had performed on one at the court in Potsdam. His complaint to the maker about the quality of the fortepiano has often been quoted, but there is no doubt that he knew it well. Moreover, one of his students, Johann Friedrich Agricola, noted that he used to play the clavichord on occasion, mainly for improvising smaller chamber works.


Today, one finds that the various interpretations of Bach’s keyboard works on both older and more contemporary 20th-century instruments can be found in abundance. Luca Guglielmi’s disc adds a slight twist to this crowd by playing a number of small works on three instruments that would have been known by the composer; an Italian fortepiano modeled after a Cristofori original from 1726, a German Silbermann copy from the 1749 model; and a German clavichord after a 1784 Hubert instrument. All of these are tuned so that A=415 Hz, a tuning that would not have been unfamiliar to the composer. Given that these are familiar and oft-recorded works, the main purpose of this disc is to delineate how Bach’s works might have sounded on the three instruments with which he may have been familiar. The eldest is the Cristofori, which is used for the Toccata in C Minor. It has a somewhat stringy and transparent sound. Guglielmi doesn’t stress the action too much, preferring an easy-going tempo, particularly in the fugue. I find that the middle registers of the instrument sometimes are a bit thick, but this does not interfere appreciably with the delineation of the lines. The Silbermann, on the other hand, is a brighter, more resonant instrument. In the opening Praeludium, for example, the broken chords have each tone sustained, almost as if there was a resonating set of sympathetic strings. This may be in part due to Guglielmi’s stately playing, which allows for the resonance to coalesce into subtly dissolving waves of sound. In the C-Minor Partita, the texture is a bit darker, and perhaps a bit more harpsichord-like. The Gigue, for example, has a nice triplet figuration in the middle register, which sometimes outshines the bass line. The two pieces played on the clavichord are far more tinny and have a sort of plucked instrument quality of sound, almost as if they are being played on a mandolin. In the Fugue of the A-Minor Sonata, for instance, the soft sound is like being played through cotton, with little or no resonance at all, and yet the instrumental sounds have a nice attack that allows each line to come through.


As for the performance, Guglielmi is stately and cautious with his tempos, deliberately allowing for the tone qualities of his instruments to come forward. His phrasing is quite well done and conforms to the often subtle shifts in thematic structure of the works. Given the eclectic nature of the music, this may not be a disc for everyone, but certainly those interested in Bach and the fortepiano/clavichord will find this disc more than just an archival curiosity. It is a fine study in the timbre of Bach’s time.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1.
Prelude in C major (WFN 14, variant of BWV 846), BWV 846a by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Fortepiano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
2.
Toccata in C minor, BWV 911 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Fortepiano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 12 Minutes 33 Secs. 
3.
Suite for Cello solo no 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010: 1st movement, Prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Fortepiano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
4.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro for Lute in E flat major, BWV 998 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Fortepiano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1740; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 10 Minutes 15 Secs. 
5.
Prelude for Lute in C minor, BWV 999 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Fortepiano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 1 Minutes 19 Secs. 
6.
Partita for Lute in C minor, BWV 997 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Fortepiano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1737-1741; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 12 Minutes 18 Secs. 
7.
Sonata for Violin solo no 2 in A minor, BWV 1003 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 16 Minutes 35 Secs. 
8.
Suite for lute in G minor, BWV 995: Sarabande by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luca Guglielmi (Clavichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727-1731; Germany 
Venue:  Chiesa Parrocchiale di Montaldo Torinese 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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