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Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord BWV 1014-1019

Micaela Comberti (Baroque Violin) & Colin Tilney (Harpsichord)

Comberti and Tilney Record Bach's Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord

H-1

J.S. Bach: The Six Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord, Vol. 1

Suite in A minor, BWV 818a [14:43]
Sonatas for violin & keyboard Nos. 1-3, BWV 1014 -1016 [13:36, 14:08, 16:25]

Micaela Comberti (Baroque Violin); Colin Tilney (Harpsichord)

Dorian

Aug-Sep 2000

CD / TT: 58:52

Recorded at Weston Parish Church, Weston, Herts, England.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

H-2

J.S. Bach: The Six Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord, Vol. 2

Suite in E flat major, BWV 819a [14:21]
Sonatas for violin & keyboard Nos. 4-6, BWV 1017-1019 [17:58, 17:24, 15:17]
Sonata for violin & keyboard No. 6 in G major (variant), BWV 1019a [6:25]

Micaela Comberti (Baroque Violin); Colin Tilney (Harpsichord)

Dorian

Aug-Sep 2000

CD / TT: 71:25

Recorded at Weston Parish Church, Weston, Herts, England.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Donald Satz wrote (September 7, 2001):
Summary: Not satisfying

Dorian has entered the Bach Violin & Harpsichord Sonata field rather late in the game. Many excellent sets are currently on the market including Blumenstock/Butt on Harmonia Mundi, Huggett/Koopman on Philips, van Dael/van Asperen on Naxos, Kuijken/Leonhardt on DHM, and Podger/Pinnock on Channel Classics. Any new contender must reach a high level of performance quality to match these fine issues.

Colin Tilney has had an international reputation for many years. He has recorded for Decca, Deutche Grammophon, Dorian, and Hyperion. His recorded performances of Bach include the Toccatas BWV 910-916 and the complete Well Tempered Clavier. Micaela Comberti, although of lesser reputation than Tilney, is a veteran of the HIP movement. She has been a regular member of the Trevor Pinnock's English Concert, the Salomon Quartet, and Collegium Musicum 90.

The performances are generally low-key and beautiful. However, many other recordings offer the beauty in the music and much more. Comberti is much too relaxed with deficient animation and muscularity; she also never digs deeply in the slow movements. Tilney is no improvement. Whenever it's time for him to take center-stage, he becomes reticent and ordinary. His cembalo solo from the last Sonata is perverse and unrewarding; the tempo is laughably slow, and the performance is rich to the point of being thick. In no movement does this team rise to the level of the best or even better versions. Bach provides microcosms of the human condition; Comberti and Tilney merely skim the surface.

My sad commentary on the set is as follows:

Sonata No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1014 - Blumenstock/Bull is my favorite version of the B minor, although the fourth movement from Huggett and Koopman is a thrilling foreboding experience. Comberti gives a fine and idiomatic performance but does does not compare well to Blumenstock. Comberti's fast movements are played on the slow side; she does provide plenty of strength and momentum, but a quicker tempo would be advantageous for generating more excitement. In the first movement, she entirely misses the opportunity to deliver the violin's final outburst of accumulated energy. With the third movement, Comberti isn't close to the depth of emotion given by Blumenstock.

Sonata No. 2 in A major, BWV 1015 - The lack of depth from Comberti continues in the A major's first and third movements. The second movement allegro gives Tilney the opportunity to shine in the first repeat, but he's far below the impact made by Leonhardt with Kuijken. Also, in this movement and the fourth, Comberti plays in too relaxing a manner. There's a lack of vital juices flowing from her violin and the performances. The readings are certainly beautiful, but there is more to capture.

Sonata No. 3 in F major, BWV 1016 - The same patterns reappear for Comberti and Tilney. Comberti again is rather low on depth and too comfortable with little contrast. I did think she was going to pick up the pace in the fourth movement; she starts out like 'gangbusters' but doesn't keep up the momentum. It sounded like Tilney was trying to help her maintain propulsion, but the effort didn't work.

There's little point in continuing with my work-by-work journey, because Comberti's approach changes little in the last three Sonatas or in the Suites for that matter. I would like to tell about Tilney's cembalo solo in the Sonata No. 6; it's the least appealing performance I've ever heard. Tilney slows it down so much that he robs the music of any excitement or vitality. He makes it sound like a rich ballad. There might be some superb artists who can use the extremely slow tempo to advantage, but Tilney isn't among them. Overall, the set is heavy going when listening straight through. It's just more of the same and becomes increasingly unappetizing.

I should relate that the Classics Today web-site review had a much higher opinion of the Comberti performances and considered them similar to the van Dael readings on Naxos. Right, similar except that van Dael has a wealth of depth and energy lacking in Comberti. Also, I found it odd that the reviewer never mentioned Tilney's cembalo solo; it's a strange performance regardless of the final opinion.

This new set will not be residing with me for long, and I recommend staying clear of it. With all the wonderful versions on the market, there's no reason to allow Comberti/Tilney to take up your time. The set has certainly taken up my time, and I'm none the better for it. I'm not a big fan of the Andrew Manze set on Harmonia Mundi, but I'd opt for that one over Comberti any day of the week.

 

Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord BWV 1014-1019: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Carmignola & Marcon | Comberti & Tilney | Ngai & Watchorn (Satz) | Ngai & Watchorn (McElhearn) | Ronez & Kubitschek | Standage & Ad-El

Colin Tilney: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings: Review:
Bach's Toccatas for Harpsichord from Watchorn & Troeger (3 Parts) | Comberti and Tilney Record Bach's Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord

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Last update: żOctober 25, 2006 ż13:56:46