Notes and Editorial Reviews
THE BACH FAMILY ALBUM • Aulos Ens (period instruments) • CENTAUR 3068 (63:43)
J. C. BACH Quintet in D, op.22. J. S. BACH Aria, BWV 988; Minuets: BWV Anh.114 & 115; Polonaises: BWV Anh.123 & 125; Musette, BWV Anh.126. C. P. E. BACH Trio Sonata in G, Wq 144; Oboe Sonata in g, Wq 135. J. C. F. BACH Trio in c
"Founded in 1973, the Aulos Ensemble is one of America’s oldest period-instrument chamber groups, if not the oldest. The same five musicians have been with the group since the beginning: Christopher Krueger, Baroque flute; Marc Schachman, Baroque oboe; Linda Quan, Baroque violin; Myron Lutzke, Baroque cello; and Arthur Haas, harpsichord. Their Bach Family Album contains an
imaginative selection—rather than programming major works of Old Bach, they have decided to include several short excerpts from the
Clavier-Büchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach
, arranged to suit the personnel. The famous Aria that begins the
, for example, is presented here as a cello solo, expressively played by Myron Lutzke. All the other numbers are performed
with each member given a solo turn.
The bulk of the program is entrusted to three of the Bach sons, including one you don’t hear much about: Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732–95), the so-called “Bückeburg Bach” and the oldest surviving son of Anna Magdalena. His trio for harpsichord, flute, and oboe is a vigorous but ultimately lightweight affair firmly planted in the late
style. The writing pairs flute and oboe, often in thirds, against solo harpsichord. The Bach son conspicuous by his absence on the program is Wilhelm Friedemann; I would have gladly traded the Friedrich Bach trio for anything by Friedemann.
Johann Christian Bach’s quintet is a bit more substantial; it has been recorded at least once before on period instruments, by members of the English Concert and Trevor Pinnock in the late 80s. The work’s instrumentation is tailor-made for the Aulos Ensemble and they do it justice.
In the 18th century, the term “trio sonata” meant basically any work written for two instruments and basso continuo; the choice of melody instruments was often left to the performers. For its performance of the Emanuel Bach trio sonata, the Aulos Ensemble has chosen flute and violin for the upper parts, and the two instruments offset each other quite nicely. The performance is all one could wish for: idiomatic and expressive.
I am especially gratified to see that Marc Schachman was granted a solo spot on the CD. He is widely regarded as one of the leading Baroque oboists, but there are precious few examples of his playing on disc. His performance of the Emanuel Bach oboe sonata is authoritative and filled with delicious sounds.
The recorded sound is generally good, with excellent balance between the instruments. The rich-sounding harpsichord is given prominence when called for, as in the Christian Bach quintet. Recommended."
FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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