These six sonatas, said by Forkel to have been written for Wilhelm Friedemann (Bach's eldest son) as exercises on a two-manual pedal harpsichord or clavichord, have thus far largely remained the property of organists. However, trio sonatas (which these are) invite performance by trios, as Bach endorsed in reworking two of the slow movements in BWV76 (for oboe d'amore viola da gamba and continuo) and BWV1044 (for flute, violin, harpsichord and strings). Holliger argues that such adaptations enable the expressive qualities of the music to be better revealed than is possible on a keyboard instrument, and these performances substantiate his claim. In three of the sonatas, BWV526, 528 and 530, two solo instruments are here used in addition toRead more the harpsichord, in the others it is the oboe alone.
No information is given as to the instruments used (though Holliger's oboe is a modern one), but it matters little; they are used with the utmost skill and intelligence, and the recording places them in exceptionally fine balance, truly presenting the music as conversations among equals. Holliger is flawless in style, articulation and expressiveness with a liquid gold tone, and Zimmermann is matchingly sensitive to nuance and with welcomely accurate intonation, an ideal partner to Holliger, as is also Jaccottet. It is difficult to envisage a more delightful and revealing way of hearing these works or, given the chosen instrumentation, a happier and better matched company of players. Add to this the recording quality they deserve, and what you have is an irresistible album.'