BACH Trio Sonatas
As Brook Street Band founder and cellist Tatty Theo says in her booklet-notes, the band’s reason for recording yet another arrangement of Bach’s six trio sonatas for organ has been for “the sheer pleasure of playing this wonderful music, and the wish to share it”. And it shows, with unaffected performances of remarkable freshness and vitality. Bach took the Italian trio sonata and “organ-ised” it, assigning the two melodic lines to one manual apiece and the bass to the pedal. Theo’s arrangements “reassign” the melodic lines to the violins and the bass to cello and harpsichord continuo; harpsichordist Carolyn Gibley is careful, too, not to obscure Bach’s writing with her right hand.
The BSB’s approach combines the clarity of London Baroque with the elegance of the Purcell Quartet while hinting at the colour of the Palladian Ensemble, which employs recorders and plucked strings as well as violin and gamba on its excellent disc of arrangements of Bach sonatas and chorales. But the exuberance is all BSB’s own. Theo’s bass is clear and firm throughout, providing a centre of gravity for violinists Rachel Harris and Farran Scott to really dance. This is as apparent in the fast major-key movements such as BWV529’s opening Allegro and dramatic minor-key movements such as the Vivace from BWV526 as it is in the slower, which, like the Largo of BWV526, tend towards the quicker side without sacrificing delicacy or gravitas. The variety of string articulation together with Gibley’s discrete harmonisations further serve both to enliven and to elucidate Bach’s musical arguments. Superb.