J.S. Bach: French Suites BWV812-817

J.S. Bach: French Suites BWV812-817
Composer Johann Sebastian Bach
Artist Wolfgang Rübsam lute-harpsichord
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 96227
EAN code 5028421962276
Release December 2020

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About this release

A new recording from a Bach luminary of our time: the French Suites, returned to their original context as private music for entertainment and instruction.

The title of French Suites does not originate from Bach’s hand: they were called “Suites pour le clavessin” by the composer. To judge from the number of copies made by his pupils, they likely played a significant role in domestic music-making in Bach’s home and in his teaching, and they remain among the most approachable of Bach’s keyboard works for performer and listener alike. As in the English Suites, Bach included the customary sequence of allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue, with additional short movements between the sarabande and gigue. Unlike the English Suites, however, they have no preludes and are generally of a more modest scale, both less stylized and less demanding in technical terms.

Wolfgang Rübsam is internationally known as an authoritative Bach interpreter, from recordings of the organ and harpsichord on several different labels. He has recorded the French Suites before, on the piano. Made in March 2020, this new account is played on the kind of lute-harpsichord that Bach would have had at home for both music-making in the family and for teaching. The touch required and the sonority produced is delicate, subtly shaded and closely related in its effect to the music of Bach’s French contemporaries, whose music he knew well, such as François Couperin, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Louis Marchand.

The cantabile style of playing heard in these marvellous performances is directly inspired by the instrument, a lute-harpsichord built for Mr. Rübsam in 2015 by the acclaimed American instrument-maker Keith Hill.

It was Georg Böhm who introduced Bach to French harpsichord music and the appropriate manner of playing. Thanks to Böhm’s introduction, Bach, the German harpsichordist, was able to perform French dance music of the era of Louis XIV at gatherings of the nobility, thus becoming familiar with the music of his French contemporaries such as François Couperin, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Louis Marchand.
Among the harpsichord pieces which Bach composed in the French style, besides many separate suites, are the English and French Suites (both completed as series in Cöthen and Leipzig in 1718-1725), and the Six Partitas.
Bach included in the French Suites the customary sequence of allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue, with additional short movements between the sarabande and gigue. The dances are based on French models, but have no preludes and are generally of a more modest scale, both less stylized and less demanding technically.
Played by one of the foremost keyboard players of today, Wolfgang Rübsam, on the Lute Harpsichord. The quality of the sound of this instrument is much warmer than a regular harpsichord, as it has gut strings and no dampers.
Wolfgang Rübsam has an immense discography to his name. His more than 100 recordings include organ and harpsichord works from the Baroque and the Romantic era.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 812: I. Allemande
  2. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 812: II. Courante
  3. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 812: III. Sarabande
  4. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 812: IV. Menuet 1 & 2
  5. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 812: V. Gigue
  6. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 813: I. Allemande
  7. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 813: II. Courante
  8. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 813: III. Sarabande
  9. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 813: IV. Air
  10. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 813: V. Menuet
  11. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 813: VI. Gigue
  12. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 3 in B Minor, BWV 814: I. Allemande
  13. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 3 in B Minor, BWV 814: II. Courante
  14. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 3 in B Minor, BWV 814: III. Sarabande
  15. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 3 in B Minor, BWV 814: IV. Menuet-Trio-Menuet
  16. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 3 in B Minor, BWV 814: V. Anglaise
  17. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 3 in B Minor, BWV 814: VI. Gigue
  18. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-Flat Major, BWV 998: I. Prelude
  19. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-Flat Major, BWV 998: II. Fugue
  20. Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-Flat Major, BWV 998: III. Allegro

Disk 2

  1. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 815: I. Allemande
  2. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 815: II. Courante
  3. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 815: III. Sarabande
  4. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 815: IV. Gavotte
  5. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 815: V. Air
  6. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 815: VI. Gigue
  7. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816: I. Allemande
  8. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816: II. Courante
  9. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816: III. Sarabande
  10. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816: IV. Gavotte
  11. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816: V. Bourrée
  12. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816: VI. Loure
  13. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816: VII. Gigue
  14. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: I. Allemande
  15. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: II. Courante
  16. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: III. Sarabande
  17. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: IV. Gavotte
  18. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: V. Polonaise
  19. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: VI. Bourrée
  20. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: VII. Menuet
  21. Johann Sebastian Bach: French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817: VIII. Gigue
  22. Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite in E Minor, BWV 996: I. Passaggio
  23. Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite in E Minor, BWV 996: II. Presto
  24. Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite in E Minor, BWV 996: III. Allemande
  25. Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite in E Minor, BWV 996: IV. Courante
  26. Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite in E Minor, BWV 996: V. Sarabande
  27. Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite in E Minor, BWV 996: VI. Bourrée
  28. Johann Sebastian Bach: Suite in E Minor, BWV 996: VII. Gigue