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Bach: Trio Sonatas / Lorenzo Ghielmi

Bach,J.s. / Ghielmi
Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Passacaille   Catalog #: 967   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Trio Sonatas, BWV 525–530 Lorenzo Ghielmi (org) PASACAILLE 967 (79:28)


The autographed manuscript to Bach’s six trio sonatas for organ, preserved in Berlin’s Staatsbibliothek, can be dated to around 1730. Chronologically, that would place them roughly around the same time as the composer’s keyboard partitas, which were written sometime between 1725 and 1731. What we know about the trio sonatas, or think we do from Bach’s early biographer, J. N. Forkel, is that they were Read more written for the composer’s eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, both as organ technique-building exercises and as lessons in three-part counterpoint.


Adapting material to the organ from the Italian fast-slow-fast, three-movement Baroque trio sonata, which normally featured two melody instruments and a figured bass part for keyboard continuo, Bach imaginatively distributed the two melody voices between the two keyboard manuals and the bass part to the pedal. But Bach being Bach, these pieces are not as simple or straightforward as that, for especially in the third movements of each of the sonatas, the pedal parts go considerably beyond supplying the bass line for the harmonic progression; they engage quite actively in the melodic/contrapuntal interplay, which makes them a technical challenge even for a mature player let alone for the young Wilhelm Friedemann, who would have been 20 in 1730.


Lorenzo Ghielmi teaches at the Milan International Academy of Music. He has a respectable discography to his credit, which includes CDs featuring the music of a number of fairly obscure 17th-century keyboard composers, such as Giovanni Fontana, Dario Costello, Francesco Turini, and Arnold M. Brunckhorst. But not content to be typecast as a Baroque specialist, Ghielmi has also ventured into the 20th century, playing works by Arvo Pärt, and he can also be found playing piano in a recording of Schumann’s E?-Major Piano Quintet.


For this recording Ghielmi plays the 1991 Ahrend organ at Milan’s San Simpliciano Basilica. The instrument is of modest size, having two manuals plus pedal and 35 stops. In his notes, Ghielmi documents his settings for each movement of each of the sonatas.


Despite their didactic purpose, Bach’s trio sonatas are beautiful and ever-fascinating music as evidenced by the number of available recordings, and not just on organ. Among organ versions, one can go back to E. Power Biggs’s 1966 traversal for Sony or stick with more recent performances by Simon Preston, Kevin Bowyer, Marie-Claire Alain, and Ton Koopman. But I was so taken with Benjamin Alard’s harpsichord partitas in Fanfare 34:1 that when I saw he’d recorded the trio sonatas in 2008 I had to have it. And I was not disappointed. Everything I said in my review of his partitas holds true for his organ playing.


The comparison with Ghielmi is not entirely inapt, because Alard also plays a modern instrument, a Bernard Aubertin organ, built in 2005, in the Eglise Saint-Louis en l’île in Paris. It is, however, a rather larger instrument than the one Ghielmi plays, having three manuals plus pedal, 69 ranks, and 51 stops. Still, it’s not just the fuller sonorities of the Aubertin organ that cause me to lean in Alard’s favor; it’s his always musically informed choice of stops and his exceptionally clear voicing and stylish playing that bring a real feeling of uplifting joyfulness to Bach’s “instructional exercises.” Still, this new Ghielmi is also very good, and may, in its use of a more moderately sized and voiced instrument, be closer to what Bach would have known. Where indicated, Ghielmi takes repeats, and while he doesn’t alter stops, he does add tasteful and appropriate embellishments.


All in all, very enjoyable and recommended.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 1 in E flat major, BWV 525 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Basilica di San Simpliciano, Milan, Ital 
Length: 13 Minutes 50 Secs. 
2.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 2 in C minor, BWV 526 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Basilica di San Simpliciano, Milan, Ital 
Length: 12 Minutes 21 Secs. 
3.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 3 in D minor, BWV 527 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Basilica di San Simpliciano, Milan, Ital 
Length: 12 Minutes 16 Secs. 
4.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 4 in E minor, BWV 528 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Basilica di San Simpliciano, Milan, Ital 
Length: 10 Minutes 24 Secs. 
5.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 5 in C major, BWV 529 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Basilica di San Simpliciano, Milan, Ital 
Length: 15 Minutes 18 Secs. 
6.
Trio Sonata for Organ no 6 in G major, BWV 530 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Lorenzo Ghielmi (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Basilica di San Simpliciano, Milan, Ital 
Length: 13 Minutes 8 Secs. 

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