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CD Feature/ J.S. Bach: "Suites Nos. 1-4"

img  Tobias

How much of the 17th and 18th century still matters to us today? A few paintings, a couple of books, the violins of Stradivari and Guarneri. The first and the last especially still snatch up sums that make the faint-harted swoon in sweet delight during auctions and continue to excite artists all around the world. Yet noone has managed to touch the hearts of men continually over the centuries like Bach. When the BBC broadcast his entire oeuvre, from the first till the last note, during Christmas time, they hit record listener levels. And the amount of musicians and even writers that credit the man with inspiration is impressive and ever-growing. Diego Fasolis is one of those who has dedicated his life to keeping the legend alive.

Or rather: Who has dedicated his life to giving birth to this music again and again. For it will never suffice to treat Bach as a demi-god. He, too, needs to be injected with life and energy. To Fasolis, who is recording a sizeable and superb Bachography with the ARTS label, the process of interpretation is one of entering the time machine, of going back to where it all began. This is the paradox of authentic practise, when performed by passionate instrumentalists: The closer you get to the source, the better your chance of moving an audience in the present. That’s why this collection of Suites, all different in form and mood, has every chance to please both purists and newbies. Tune in to the very first seconds of the Ouverture to Suite No.1 and you’ll find yourself catapulted from your seat, your senses revitalised and brimming with energy. The second movement (“air”) meanwhile, arguably Bach’s most famous moment ever, has lost all of the dragging drowsiness with which it is usually played today and suddenly sounds both more open and mysterious – this version is a good deal faster and therefore well over a minute shorter than 90% of today’s renditions. Fasolis is not afraid of some typical Baroque-cliches – probably because most of them are true. In its golden moments, therefore, this disc sounds festive, splendid, majestic, energetic and aroused; in its quieter passages pensive, devout and filled with an unspeakable sadness. And there’s a wavelike motion in all of the pieces, a constant adherence and disengagement, which lends a natural flow to everything.

Of course, the conductor is not alone in his efforts and the ensemble behind these tracks, “I Barocchisti” plays tight and yet astoundingly relaxed. Which has resulted in an album for many occasions, for getting you started, when there’s not enough coffee in the morning, for tingling your spine during a clebratory dinner or for closing the day in style. And for truly touching your heart when your listening with both ears open. For you may not know your way with violins, collect precious paintings or read Jane Austin – but Bach can still matter to you today.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: ARTS Music

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