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  Aeolus -
  Bach: French Suites - Asperen
  Bach: French Suites

Bob van Asperen, harpsichord
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 1

Review by andrewb November 13, 2005 (10 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This recording is intriguing from a historical perspective and also enjoyable. The playing of Bob von Asperen is good but to my ears has a slightly halting rhythmic flow, similar to the style of Gustav Leonhardt; personally I prefer the more flowing style of Kenneth Gilbert and his pupils. The recording lasts only 78 minutes, which means it fits on the one disc unlike most recordings of the French Suites which need two discs, Davitt Moroney’s excellent (CD only) account lasts 108 minutes; obviously many of the repeats are not played by von Asperen to give the reduced playing time of his recording.

Most recordings today use a harpsichord tuned to pitch A = 415 Hz but here the instrument is tuned to a pitch of 392, so called “French pitch”, the booklet notes, by von Asperen, say this was commonly used for the harpsichord. It makes a lot of difference to the sound and it is very interesting but my preference is still with the normal tuning of A = 415.

Another appealing historical feature of this recording is that the harpsichord used is almost unchanged from when it was built in 1738 by Christian Vater in Hanover.

The recorded sound of the harpsichord is good and well balanced, though needs the volume level turned down substantially, like all my other discs of solo harpsichord music. There is however a problem with background noise, there is a loud hiss or whirring, which seems to come from something like an air conditioning unit. It is very obvious when the harpsichord stops, although not noticeable directly when the harpsichord is being played it does mean that the notes from the harpsichord have less clarity than they would otherwise have. This background noise is the reason I have only given 3 stars to the recording quality. The recording was made in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremburg where the harpsichord is kept and perhaps this created problems in the recording. The age of the harpsichord may also have influenced the choice of pitch and the lack of repeats in a desire to place as little stress on the instrument as possible.

Overall, this recording is very interesting and one that I shall occasionally play; but I am still looking for a more completely satisfying SACD account of these suites.

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Works: 6  

Johann Sebastian Bach - French Suite No. 1 in D minor, BWV 812
Johann Sebastian Bach - French Suite No. 2 in C minor, BWV 813
Johann Sebastian Bach - French Suite No. 3 in B minor, BWV 814
Johann Sebastian Bach - French Suite No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 815
Johann Sebastian Bach - French Suite No. 5 in G major, BWV 816
Johann Sebastian Bach - French Suite No. 6 in E major, BWV 817