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Céline Frisch (Harpsichord)

Bach Harpsichord Works from Céline Frisch

K-1

Les Nouveaux Interprètes - Céline Frisch, Clavecin: J.S. Bach

English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808 [18:43]
French Suite No. 5 in G major, BWV 816 [17:45]
Suite for keyboard in A minor, BWV 818a [12:23]
Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C major (WTC II/1), BWV 870 [ 4:15]
Toccata No. 3 in D major, BWV 912 [9:59]

Céline Frisch (Harpsichord) [by Anthony Sidey]

Harmonia Mundi France

Nov 1999

CD / TT: 63:17

Recorded at Studio 103 de la Maison de Radio France.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Donald Satz wrote (April 17, 2001):
Celine Frisch is a young adult artist who is featured on Harmonia Mundi's Les Nouveaux Interpretes series with a Bach recital of harpsichord works consisting of the C major Prelude & Fugue from Book 2 of the Well Tempered Clavier, the French Suite No. 5 in G major, Suite BWV 818a, Toccata BWV 912, and the English Suite No. 3 in G minor. This is a fine program to begin Frisch's recording tenure as a featured artist with Harmonia Mundi. Most reviews I have read are highly complimentary and indicate that Frisch is a Bach artist well worth watching in the future. The catalog number is HMN 911707.

The program begins with the C major Prelude & Fugue BWV 870. For comparison, I used Gould's performances on Sony where he couples an excellent prelude with an absolutely sensational fugue. After listening to Frisch's prelude a few times, my enthusiasm waned some. There's little subtlety or nuance, and the descending chromatic lines are not very attractive. It's an "in your face" reading. However, her C major Fugue is superb - fast, thrilling, and the equal of the slower Gould performance.

Next on the program is the French Suite No.5 in G major. For this comparison, I used Davitt Moroney's exceptional reading on Virgin Veritas. Frisch's opening Allemande has all the delicacy, subtlety, and beauty I could ask for. However, the exuberant Courante is more exciting in Moroney's hands. The sublime Sarabande is excellently served by Frisch; she's faster than Moroney but just as wide-ranging and deep in emotions. Frisch continues with faster tempos than Moroney in the happy and joy-filled Gavotte and Bourree. I prefer her faster speed in the Gavotte, but the Bourree finds her somewhat hectic. The Loure is highly elegant and ornamented music with a halting rhythm. Frisch is outstanding here as she takes me to exquisite lands; Moroney has some odd note values which reduce enjoyment. Both Moroney and Frisch are very exciting in the concluding Gigue which just might be the best gigue written by anyone. This is a very impressive G major Suite from Frisch which stands up well to the Moroney recording.

Suite BWV 818a in A minor is sometimes coupled with the French Suites as is the case with the Moroney and Hogwood sets of the French Suites; Robert Hill also includes BWV 818 on a Hanssler disc of assorted Bach works. My favorite is the Hogwood which I used for comparison with Frisch. Hogwood is not the slowest of performers, but Frisch is faster in all six movements. The Fort gai and Courante do not benefit from Frisch's tempos, but the Gigue is quite exciting. The big news is that her Allemande and Sarabande are the best I've heard. Overall, I now consider Frisch's the best recording of BWV 818a.

The Toccata in D major BWV 912 is a good test for Frisch to display her playful and youthful side. I'm in the process of reviewing a few recordings of the seven Toccatas, and I have already finished listening to the D major versions. Watchorn is my favorite as he gives himself entirely to the exuberance of his youth. Frisch continues with faster tempos than the alternatives. Watchorn, at 12 minutes, is not slow at all; Gould takes over 14 minutes. By comparison, Frisch is about 10 minutes in length. However, it never hurts her performance, not even in the Adagio in F sharp minor Fugue where she still manages to bring out a wide range of emotional variety and with depth. As for being young, that's no problem for her at all as she equals Watchorn. Frisch's is a wonderful interpretation with superb execution.

Closing out the program is the English Suite No. 3 in G minor. Leonhardt's version, even with his routine skipping of repeats, is excellent and the one I compared to Frisch. Again, she is faster than the average in every movement and fully the equal of her competition. The depth she displays in the Sarabande at her quick tempo is just amazing.

I predict a great career for Celine Frisch as a Bach performer. She has all the technique needed and always gets to the core of Bach's music. When excitement and thrills are called for, she delivers. When depth and introspection are needed, she fully supplies them. Frisch never is wayward or putting herself ahead of the music. In very recent years, new and major Bach performers such as Edward Parmentier and Richard Troeger are being recognized. I think that Celine Frisch has all the tools to surpass them and become one of the masters of performing Bach. There's just a little adjustment she needs to make - every movement of every work doesn't have to be faster than the norm. Even though she handles fast tempos excellently, a little less predictability is in order. I think that Frisch will naturally become more discriminating in her choices of tempo as she matures. Once that's accomplished, the sky is the limit.

Don's Conclusions: Celine Frisch's Bach recital disc is a must-buy. At a young age, she already meets the challenges of artists such as Leonhardt and Moroney. With great playing and an excellent selection of Bach works, the recording is a winner on all counts except for the C major Prelude from the WTC. I'm looking forward to her new disc of the Bach Sonatas for Viol and Harpsichord where I can hear how well she does as a member of a musical team.

 

Céline Frisch: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach Harpsichord Works from Céline Frisch
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Goldberg Variations BWV 988 - played by Céline Frisch

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Last update: żOctober 28, 2006 ż19:09:27