Very little is known about Charpentier's life (1643-1704). The main source of information is an obscure rival composer named de Brossard. According to de Brossard, Charpentier was originally from Paris but studied music in Rome under the composer Carissimi. In 1696 he beat out de Brossard for the post of choirmaster at the Sainte Chapelle Cathedral in Paris, where he remained until his death in 1704. As Goebels writes in the album liner notes, there are several reasons for Charpentier's neglect as a composer.
Having all of these works collected together is a real treasure. It is one of the most beautiful collections I've heard. 5 cd's of all of Bach's chamber music, exquisitely performed by the outstanding soloists of Musica Antiqua Koln. Reinhard Goebel's performance of the violin works is simply perfect. As I've said before, Bach's sonatas for violin and harpsichord have been in the shadows for too long, they deserve to be heard and this performance proves it. They are a delightful partnership between violin and harpsichord. The tempos are fairly brisk but the performance is so clearly articulated that the result is energetic and very rewarding.
If you like your Baroque music loud and luscious, then this is the disc for you. When you play it first, be aware that the two introductory pieces are not as loud as the later ones, so set your volume low to start off with!
McCreesh, Goebel and their crew have recreated the full pomp and atmosphere of the time (as far as we can tell). The recording is well-defined and, perhaps surprisingly, for a work of this scale, it does not deteriorate into a miasmic wash of sound. The directionality is very good, even on "ordinary" two-channel stereo.
"…As it stands, this is an issue that can be warmly recommended musically and technically without reservation—except perhaps to those who hanker after rich Romantic tone and find the characteristic sound of baroque violins wiry. Even they, however, could not fail to be stirred by the enormous vitality of these performances: the word 'routine' simply doesn't seem to exist in the vocabulary of this splendid team of virtuosi. Its Vivaldi, which brings home the point that the Folies d'Espagne was (as its name implies) originally a frenzied dance, is in itself worth getting the disc for; 'the' Pachelbel canon played in the proper style might wean slush-wallowers away from the soupiness in which it is usually drenched; but the Handel trio sonata (incorporating themes from various stage works) is also a delight; and the glorious sense of controlled freedom which permeates the Bach, meticulously phrased and stylishly ornamented, uplifts the spirit." ~Grammophone