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Cristiano Holtz Plays Bach

Bach,J.s. / Holtz
Release Date: 08/14/2012 
Label:  Edition Hera   Catalog #: 2125   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Fantasies: in a, BWV 922; in g, BWV 920. Fantasy and Fugue in d, BWV 905. Toccatas: in d, BWV 913; in e, BWV 914. Preludes: in F, BWV 928; in d, BWV 926; in G, BWV 902. Toccatas: in d, Read more BWV 913; in e, BWV 914. Chorale, “Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten,” BWV 691. Praeambulum in g, BWV 930. Sonata and Fugue in a, BWV 967/959. Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in d, BWV 903 Cristiano Holtz (hpd) HERA 2125 (71:56)


Quoting from the liner notes, “Except the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, the G-Major Prelude, and the pieces from the Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1720), all the Bach works played on this recording are early ones, possibly from the period spent at Muehlhausen (1707–08) or—in some cases—his first years at Weimar (1708–17). Many of the pieces performed here are little-known pieces, seldom performed and much less recorded. Such is the case of the G-Minor Fantasy—I could not find any digital recording of this work, and so I believe it to be a world premiere on CD.” Not being a Bach scholar, I therefore absolve myself of blame in claiming this piece and the Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 905, as premiere recordings. If you have a problem with this, write to Cristiano Holtz.


Now, then, to move on to the recording—it’s simply fantastic. Not being familiar with many of these pieces, I can only say that to me Holtz’s performances are absolutely scintillating, in fact among the most emotionally engaged Bach playing on harpsichord I’ve ever heard in my life. I can’t even think of another Bach album to compare it to, but rather I’d put it in the same classification as Igor Kipnis’s magnificent 1982 Nonesuch album The Virtuoso Handel. Holtz makes his instrument sing, dance, and do backflips through the music. He is fully engaged, both technically and emotionally, from first note to last. When was the last time you heard a Bach album—and/or a harpsichord album—that riveted your attention from start to finish?


In his liner notes, Holtz often points out the similarities in these early Bach pieces to the Italian style, particularly trio sonatas and toccatas, and his playing is very much in the Italian style as well. In fact, I almost feel while listening to the disc that these pieces, and Holtz’s playing of them, sound much more like the Scarlatti sonatas or even the harpsichord music of Buxtehude. Thus it didn’t surprise me at all to learn that one of his greatest influences was the late Gustav Leonhardt, who accepted Holtz as his last official pupil. Like his mentor, Holtz plays with joy, excitement, and fervor. You could skip through this CD, stopping at different pieces at random, and you would be enthralled by his playing no matter what the context. His recital ends with what I can only describe as the most scintillating performance of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue I’ve ever heard. This one goes on my shortlist of favorite Bach albums.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Toccata in E minor, BWV 914 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; ?Weimar, Germany 
2.
Toccata in D minor, BWV 913 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; ?Weimar, Germany 
3.
Sonata in A minor, BWV 967 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1715 
4.
Prelude in F major, BWV 928 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
5.
Prelude in D minor, BWV 926 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
6.
Prelude in A minor, BWV 922 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
7.
Prelude and Fughetta in G major, BWV 902 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
8.
Praeambulum in G minor, BWV 930 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
9.
Fugue in A minor, BWV 959 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1710; Weimar, Germany 
10.
Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 905 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1725; Leipzig, Germany 
11.
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
12.
Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, BWV 691 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
13.
Fantasia for Harpsichord in G minor, BWV 920 [doubtful] by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Cristiano Holtz (Harpsichord)
Notes: World premiere recording on CD.  

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