No more than a handful of pieces represent the entire musical heritage for baroque lute by Johann Sebastian Bach – not a lot when we consider the enormity of the composer’s total output. Although it is not known whether Bach himself played the instrument, the seven works which are ascribable to it continue to enjoy extraordinary attention on the part of musicians due to their exceptional quality, and indeed the majority originate from the areas of Germany that were home to the lute’s greatest exponents – musicians who we can be almost certain the composer came into contact with. This recording thus presents four compositions in suite form and three pieces of a different nature, all belonging to the florid repertoire of the courtly Salonmusik that was in vogue among the German upper classes at the time. Performing them is acclaimed Italian lutenist Mario D’Agosto, whose changes in tonality aim to better serve the capacities of the instrument and whose embellishments are testament to the high level of ornamentation which played such an intrinsic role in baroque performance practice.
Masaaki Suzuki is a Japanese organist, harpsichordist and conductor, and the founder and musical director of the Bach Collegium Japan. He also teaches and conducts at Yale University and has conducted orchestras and choruses around the world. He was born in Kobe to parents who were both Christians and amateur musicians; his father had worked professionally as a pianist. Masaaki Suzuki began playing organ professionally at church services at the age of 12.
For those that prefer to hear these works on piano rather than harpsichord, you can hardly find more enjoyable, illuminating, and elegant performances than these. Andras Schiff has surely become one of the most prominent proponents of J.S. Bach on the piano. He is a true master, and the Bach Concerto recordings with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, led by Schiff himself, exemplify this and count as essential listening.
This unusual release, recorded in 1975, attempts to shed light on the numerous problems concerning the nature and indeed authorship of the flute sonatas by, or not by, Bach. The artistry of these musicians is, as we might expect, compelling, but in their attempt to segregate authentic Bach from what are often supposed to be spurious flute sonatas they have, in common parlance, 'come a cropper'. (CRD CRDIOI4-15, 8/75). N.A..
Since founding Bach Collegium Japan in 1990, Masaaki Suzuki has established himself as a leading authority on the works of Bach. He has remained their Music Director ever since, taking them regularly to major venues and festivals in Europe and the USA and building up an outstanding reputation for the expressive refinement and truth of his performances.