During the late 1970s, the Dutch harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2012) transcribed and arranged the works by Bach for solo violin and solo cello for harpsichord. He played them in his own recitals and recorded some of them for a German label. Only in 2018 did these arrangements become more widely available for keyboard players thanks to a new Bärenreiter edition prepared by Siebe Henstra at the invitation of Leonhardt’s widow Marie and daughter Saskia. With typical understatement, Leonhardt declared that ‘I think Bach would have forgiven me for the fact that I have set myself to making arrangements of his works. Whether or not he would have forgiven the way I have done it, remains of course a moot point.’
The Cello Suites, the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin and a pair of slow dances (originally for flute and for lute) now receive their first recordings not made by Leonhardt himself, and at the hands of an early-music keyboard player who has enriched the Brilliant Classics catalogue with acclaimed recordings of Telemann, Frescobaldi, Bach and much more.
Leonhardt’s transcription of the great Chaconne from the D minor Partita is as rich and thrilling as to be anticipated from one of the sovereign Bach interpreters of our age (or any other), discreetly opening out Bach’s implied harmonies without adding superfluous anachronisms. In some ways more enlightening and impressive are his elaborations of the Cello Suites’ plainer textures. Much more than a curio, this significant new album demands the attention of all Bach devotees.
First complete recording of the Sonatas, Partitas and Suites by Bach in the harpsichord transcription by Gustav Leonhardt.
The transcription of these works, which were originally written for a solo string instrument (violin, cello) requires the hand of a master: Gustav Leonhardt certainly proves his deep insight of both Bach’s sound world and the possibilities of the harpsichord in these transcriptions, which feature complex counterpoint and harmonies.
Bach himself transcribed many of his own works and those of others for different instruments. The close study of these works gave Leonhardt the courage and vision to write his own, commenting in his typical modest way: “I think that Bach would have forgiven me the fact that I have set myself to making arrangements of his works. Whether or not he would have forgiven the way I have done it is a moot point..”.
Italian harpsichordist Roberto Loreggian has a substantial discography to his name, including works by Frescobaldi, Gabrieli, Vivaldi, Galuppi, Handel and others.