Notes and Editorial Reviews
The ‘Italian’ Concerto and ‘French’ Overture included on this disc together make up the second part of Bach’s Clavier-Übung, composed, according to Bach himself, ‘for music lovers to refresh their spirits’. Here Steven Devine’s performances show that these works do far more than simply refresh spirits. The ‘Italian’ Concerto has long been thought a product of Bach’s extensive study of Vivaldi’s concerti.
It is full of allusions to the style of the Italian orchestral concerto but the idiomatic keyboard writing, particularly in the exquisitely ornamented slow movement, clearly shows the work’s conception as a virtuoso keyboard piece. The large scale of the ‘French’ Overture’s opening movement is unprecedented in the work
of Bach, being his longest single keyboard movement. It is grandiose and imposing in character and stands in contrast to the seven shorter, more delicate dance movements that follow. Alongside these largescale works are the Aria variata ‘alla maniera italiana, the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV903, and the Fantasia in C minor, BWV906.
Steven Devine plays a double-manual harpsichord by Colin Booth (2000) after Fleischer (1710), which throughout the program allows him to bring out Bach’s idiomatic contrasts in dynamics and color.
It's a lineup oozing virtuosic exuberance, and, as in his heel-kicking additions to the ouverture's Echo, Devine can do 'brilliance'; but he's never interested in virtuosity for its own sake.
– BBC Music Magazine
Follow closely and you'll notice how Bach's harmonic governs the harpsichordist's phrasing. Devine is at his best in the French Overture, his intimately scaled fingerwork and adroit contrapuntal acumen between the hands place the attractive Colin Booth double manual harpsichord centre stage.
– Gramophone Read less
Works on This Recording
Italian Concerto, BWV 971 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Steven Devine (Harpsichord)
Written: 1735; Leipzig, Germany
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