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Benjamin Alard - Johann Sebastian Bach: The Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol. 4 "Alla Veneziana"

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Johann Sebastian Bach: The Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol. 4 "Alla Veneziana"

Benjamin Alard

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With Volume 4 of Benjamin Alard's immense project to record all of Bach's music for keyboard, we remain in Weimar. However, while Volume 3 focussed on Bach's French influences, this one looks instead at Venetian influences, and in particular Bach's transcriptions of Vivaldi concertos, whose orchestral sonorities he transferred into the keyboard medium with astonishing success.

This series has been especially striking for Alard's decision to group works according to chronology rather than genre, and for the range of stunning instruments he's on, meaning each programme represents an absolute cornucopia of different styles, textures and timbres. This latest addition is no exception to that rule. On the second disc, for instance, we have the exuberant Concerto in C major, BWV 976 transcribed from Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in E major, RV 265, followed by the dark polyphonic sobriety of Bach's own Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535, both performed on a gloriously big-toned, bell-like, silver on high and fruity down below, pedal harpsichord copy after a 1720 Hamburg model.

Then he brings into play the flute-like tones of the original 1710 Silbermann organ in the Abbaye Saint-Étienne, Marmoutier, for a programme that prefaces various chorale preludes with his Organ Concerto in C major, BWV 594 based on Vivaldi's “Grosso Mogul” Violin Concerto in D major, RV 208, and precedes them with his own Italian-influenced Toccata in C major, BWV 564. As for the first disc, this features the highly distinctive-sounding original 1702 Mattia de Gand harpsichord found in Treviso's Museo Santa Caterina in Treviso, whose gently percussive-sounding upper registers sound especially ear-grabbing in the Largo of the Concerto in G major, BWV 980 transcribed from Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in B-flat major, RV 381.

Alard hasn't just picked up the Bach transcriptions and played them, either. Instead, he's compared them with the orchestral originals, then come up with his own ideas on how best to voice parts and create effects, and this has reaped further riches. Just listen to the magnificent, sparkling sound world he's created for the Organ Concerto in A minor, BWV 593 – transcribed from Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Violins in A minor, Op. 3 No.8, RV 522 – thanks to the genius decision to play it not on organ at all, but on that aforementioned pedal harpsichord. Then to all the above you can add Alard's clear, bright touch, and a properly Vivaldian energy (indeed, a bit like Vivaldi, it's probably actually best enjoyed one disc at a time, so as not to end up feeling exhausted!).

Never did a review feel so much like an inadequate scratching of an album's surface. To say there's enough here to keep the inquisitive listener joyously entertained for a long time is something of an understatement. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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Johann Sebastian Bach: The Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol. 4 "Alla Veneziana"

Benjamin Alard

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1
Concerto in G Major, BWV 973: I. [no indication]
00:02:13

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

2
Concerto in G Major, BWV 973: II. Largo
00:01:57

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

3
Concerto in G Major, BWV 973: III. Allegro
00:02:28

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

4
Concerto in G Minor, BWV 975: I. [no indication]
00:03:10

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

5
Concerto in G Minor, BWV 975: II. Largo
00:03:10

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

6
Concerto in G Minor, BWV 975: III. Giga Presto
00:02:08

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

7
Concerto in B Minor, BWV 979: I. Allegro
00:01:16

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

8
Concerto in B Minor, BWV 979: II. Adagio
00:00:40

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

9
Concerto in B Minor, BWV 979: III. Allegro
00:03:20

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

10
Concerto in B Minor, BWV 979: IV. Andante
00:01:09

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

11
Concerto in B Minor, BWV 979: V. Adagio
00:00:46

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

12
Concerto in B Minor, BWV 979: VI. Allegro
00:03:46

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

13
Concerto in D Major, BWV 972: I. [no indication]
00:02:07

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

14
Concerto in D Major, BWV 972: II. Larghetto
00:03:05

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

15
Concerto in D Major, BWV 972: III. Allegro
00:02:17

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

16
Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 944
00:08:01

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

17
Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974: I. [no indication]
00:03:07

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

18
Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974: II. Adagio
00:03:25

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

19
Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974: III. Presto
00:03:50

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

20
Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 894: I. Prelude
00:05:51

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

21
Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 894: II. Fugue
00:04:41

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

22
Concerto in G Major, BWV 980: I. [no indication]
00:03:59

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

23
Concerto in G Major, BWV 980: II. Largo
00:03:07

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

24
Concerto in G Major, BWV 980: III. Allegro
00:04:08

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

DISC 2

1
Organ Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593: I. [Allegro]
00:03:52

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

2
Organ Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593: II. Adagio
00:03:41

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

3
Organ Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593: III. Allegro
00:03:55

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

4
Concerto in F Major, BWV 978: I. Allegro
00:02:23

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

5
Concerto in F Major, BWV 978: II. Largo
00:01:29

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

6
Concerto in F Major, BWV 978: III. Allegro
00:02:38

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

7
Organ Concerto in D Minor, BWV 596: I. [Allegro]
00:00:54

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

8
Organ Concerto in D Minor, BWV 596: II. Grave
00:00:17

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

9
Organ Concerto in D Minor, BWV 596: III. Fuga
00:03:10

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

10
Organ Concerto in D Minor, BWV 596: IV. Largo e spiccato
00:02:39

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

11
Organ Concerto in D Minor, BWV 596: V. [no indication]
00:03:10

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

12
Concerto in C Major, BWV 976: I. [no indication]
00:04:06

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

13
Concerto in C Major, BWV 976: II. Largo
00:03:11

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

14
Concerto in C Major, BWV 976: III. Allegro
00:03:12

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

15
Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 535
00:07:01

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

16
Organ Concerto in G Major, BWV 592: I. [Adagio]
00:03:13

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

17
Organ Concerto in G Major, BWV 592: II. Grave
00:02:01

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

18
Organ Concerto in G Major, BWV 592: III. Presto
00:01:57

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

19
Fantasie and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542/2 (excerpt): II. Fugue
00:06:12

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

DISC 3

1
Organ Concerto in C Major, BWV 594: I. [Allegro]
00:07:15

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

2
Organ Concerto in C Major, BWV 594: II. Recitativ. Adagio
00:03:35

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

3
Organ Concerto in C Major, BWV 594: III. Allegro
00:08:47

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

4
"Wo soll ich fliehen hin", BWV 694
00:03:17

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

5
Trio for organ in D Minor, BWV 583
00:05:00

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

6
"Valet will ich dir geben", BWV 736
00:04:08

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

7
Trio super "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr", BWV 664
00:05:37

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Benjamin Alard, Soloist, MainArtist

2020 harmonia mundi 2021 harmonia mundi

Album Description

With Volume 4 of Benjamin Alard's immense project to record all of Bach's music for keyboard, we remain in Weimar. However, while Volume 3 focussed on Bach's French influences, this one looks instead at Venetian influences, and in particular Bach's transcriptions of Vivaldi concertos, whose orchestral sonorities he transferred into the keyboard medium with astonishing success.

This series has been especially striking for Alard's decision to group works according to chronology rather than genre, and for the range of stunning instruments he's on, meaning each programme represents an absolute cornucopia of different styles, textures and timbres. This latest addition is no exception to that rule. On the second disc, for instance, we have the exuberant Concerto in C major, BWV 976 transcribed from Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in E major, RV 265, followed by the dark polyphonic sobriety of Bach's own Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535, both performed on a gloriously big-toned, bell-like, silver on high and fruity down below, pedal harpsichord copy after a 1720 Hamburg model.

Then he brings into play the flute-like tones of the original 1710 Silbermann organ in the Abbaye Saint-Étienne, Marmoutier, for a programme that prefaces various chorale preludes with his Organ Concerto in C major, BWV 594 based on Vivaldi's “Grosso Mogul” Violin Concerto in D major, RV 208, and precedes them with his own Italian-influenced Toccata in C major, BWV 564. As for the first disc, this features the highly distinctive-sounding original 1702 Mattia de Gand harpsichord found in Treviso's Museo Santa Caterina in Treviso, whose gently percussive-sounding upper registers sound especially ear-grabbing in the Largo of the Concerto in G major, BWV 980 transcribed from Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in B-flat major, RV 381.

Alard hasn't just picked up the Bach transcriptions and played them, either. Instead, he's compared them with the orchestral originals, then come up with his own ideas on how best to voice parts and create effects, and this has reaped further riches. Just listen to the magnificent, sparkling sound world he's created for the Organ Concerto in A minor, BWV 593 – transcribed from Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Violins in A minor, Op. 3 No.8, RV 522 – thanks to the genius decision to play it not on organ at all, but on that aforementioned pedal harpsichord. Then to all the above you can add Alard's clear, bright touch, and a properly Vivaldian energy (indeed, a bit like Vivaldi, it's probably actually best enjoyed one disc at a time, so as not to end up feeling exhausted!).

Never did a review feel so much like an inadequate scratching of an album's surface. To say there's enough here to keep the inquisitive listener joyously entertained for a long time is something of an understatement. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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