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Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord BWV 1014-1019
Simon Standage (Baroque Violin) & Shalev Ad-El (Harpsichord)
Sonatas for harpsichord & violin - Ad-El & Standage

H-1

Bach: Complete Sonatas for Harpsichord & Violin [H-2]

Sonatas for violin & keyboard, BWV 1014-1019 []

Simon Standage (Baroque Violin); Shalev Ad-El (Harpsichord)

RAM 52001-1-2

Nov 1999

2-CD / TT: 90:01

Recorded at…
Review: Sonatas for harpsichord & violin - Ad-El & Standage
Buy this album at:
2-CD (2001): Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de

Johan van Veen wrote (November 9, 2001):
This week I have been listening to a new recording of the 6 sonatas for harpsichord and violin (BWV 1014-1019), released on the label ram (52001-1-2), which I had never heard of.

The harpsichord is played by Shalev Ad-El, the baroque violin by Simon Standage. The interesting aspect of this recording is the collaboration of a viola da gamba. Although Bach has suggested in the title page that a viola da gamba could play the bass line of the harpsichord part, as far as I know very few performers have followed that suggestion. The only recording that comes to my mind is one of the earliest HIP-recordings of these sonatas, by Herbert Tachezi and Alice Harnoncourt, with Nikolaus Harnoncourt playing the viola da gamba. (I have never heard that recording, though).

This practice creates some problems regarding the balance between the instruments. In these particular sonatas there is a strong tendency to allow the violin to dominate. Unfortunately, that has happened in this recording as well. The cover already suggests a misunderstanding, in that Simon Standage is mentioned first. And indeed, the violin dominates the harpsichord. But in this case that's not the only thing that has gone wrong. The viola da gamba, played by Thomas Fritzsch, makes the lowest part sounding very strong. The result is a dominance of the violin on the one hand and the bass on the other hand. The lines in the centre are more or less overpowered. Shalev Ad-El tries to compensate that by using two 8'-registers or coupling both manuals (at least, that's how it sounds - there is no word about the interpretation nor about the instruments). It doesn't work. On the contrary: it sounds often rough and plump. I haven't many nice things to say about the performance. I find it almost embarrassing to listen to Simon Standage, who is usually playing in legato style, without any dynamic or agogic accents. This performance doesn't "breath", let alone "speak". As a whole it sounds mechanic, heavy and massive. In my opinion playing baroque music is liking telling a story. Nothing of that comes through here.

As a kind of antidote I listened afterwards to the recording by Henk Bouman and Reinhard Goebel. The difference can't be bigger. It was like a breath of fresh air.

I'm sorry to say that this new recording is one of the worst I have heard in a long time.

 

Feedback to the Review

Jim Morrison wrote (November 9, 2001):
[To Johan van Veen] Right now I'm listening to Hill and Goebel play the presto from 1019a and boy do they sound like they are having a great time together. Excellent spirited performance. There's a fair amount of sound separation in the recording so that the harpsichord is mainly coming through one speaker and the violin the other.

PS: I know Goebel recorded 1014-1019 with Robert Hill, but I didn't realize he did them with Bouman as well. Hill, by the way, went on to record these works with Sitkovetsky (modern violin) on Hänssler. I haven't had a chance to compare the two recordings yet and truth be known, I haven't listened to the Hanssler set in months, with doesn't reflect anything negative about the recording; I've just been listening to other discs.

Johan van Veen wrote (November 9, 2001):
[To Jim Morrison] No, he didn't. I was wrong: it was indeed Robert Hill. That happens when one relies on his memory instead of looking into the booklet ;)

 

Sonatas for Violin & Keyboard BWV 1014-1023: Details
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Carmignola & Marcon | Comberti & Tilney | Ngai & Watchorn [Satz] | Ngai & Watchorn [McElhearn] | Ronez & Kubitschek | Standage & Ad-El
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2

Simon Standage: Short Biography | Collegium Musicum 90 | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Sonatas for harpsichord & violin - Ad-El & Standage

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