Benjamin Alard – J.S. Bach꞉ The Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol. 5, ”Toccata & Weimar 1708-1717” (2021) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Benjamin Alard – J.S. Bach꞉ The Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol. 5, ”Toccata & Weimar 1708-1717” (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 03:04:38 minutes | 3,60 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © harmonia mundi

With Volume 5, Benjamin Alard closes the trilogy dedicated to the Weimar period.

Here we reach the toccatas, preludes, fantasies and fugues that show the extent to which Bach now mastered French and Italian influences, only to emancipate himself from them and compose in complete freedom.

An unexpected instrument makes its first appearance in this complete recording played on the finest historical keyboards: the clavichord, perfectly at home alongside the organ and the harpsichord.

The scale and detail of Benjamin Alard’s project to record all of Bach’s keyboard music only becomes more apparent as the series progresses. For a quick reminder, he’s grouping works not by genre but by chronology, meaning that any given volume represents a huge breadth of style. Also of instrument types and timbres, because as painstaking as the actual programming has been his matching of repertoire to an array of beautiful instruments, often thinking well outside the usual box.

Volume 5 sits at the end of Bach’s youthful Weimar period, just before the action moves to the Cöthen, and those for whom Alard’s choices of keyboard have proved to be an especial source of fascination will want to know that this is the first volume for which Alard has introduced a clavichord to the mix – the only forerunner of the piano that was capable of producing dynamic variation by weight of touch alone. His chosen instrument is the Philharmonie de Paris’s silvery Émile Jobin clavichord (1998) after Christian Gottfried Friederici Gera (1773), and the soft, expressive intimacy it brings to Bach’s concerto transcriptions, such as the Concerto in G minor BWV 985 after a Telemann violin concerto, is very beguiling. As is the singing, dainty lilt he and it have brought to the Toccata in G major BWV 916. Which brings me to the volume’s other defining feature, which is its celebration of the art of the “toccata” (Italian for “touch”) style – one of improvisatory, unmeasured passages alternating with fugal sections. And Alard has in fact begun the whole programme with a nimbly elegant, fleet-footedly momentum-filled reading of the most famous toccata of all, the mighty Toccata and fugue in D minor BWV 565, which he performs on the bright-toned Quentin Blumenroeder organ in Paris’s Temple du Foyer de l’Âme.

As for the final instrument on the billing, it’s the welcome return of the big-toned beauty we heard on Volume 4 – the Philippe Humeau copy of a 1720 Hamburg pedal harpsichord, which here Alard uses to bring ringing drama (magnificent trills….) to works such as the Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 538.

In short, I’m already joyfully anticipating the Cöthen years. – Charlotte Gardner

01. Benjamin Alard – Toccata in D Minor, BWV 565
02. Benjamin Alard – “Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält”, BWV 1128 (Chorale Prelude)
03. Benjamin Alard – “Liebster Jesu, wird sind hier”, BWV 731 (Chorale Prelude)
04. Benjamin Alard – “Liebster Jesu, wird sind hier”, BWV 730 (Chorale Prelude)
05. Benjamin Alard – Prelude and fugue in C Major, BWV 545a (Early version)
06. Benjamin Alard – “Jesu, meine Freude”, BWV 713 (Chorale Prelude)
07. Benjamin Alard – “Christus, der uns selig macht”, BWV 747 (Chorale Prelude)
08. Benjamin Alard – “Herzlich tut mich verlangen”, BWV 727 (Chorale Prelude)
09. Benjamin Alard – “Liebster Jesu, wird sind hier”, BWV 706 (Chorale Prelude)
10. Benjamin Alard – Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543 (Early version BWV 543/1a for the Prelude)
11. Benjamin Alard – Fantasia super “Christ lag in Todesbanden”, BWV 695
12. Benjamin Alard – Trio in D Minor, BWV 528/2a (Early version)
13. Benjamin Alard – Toccata and Fugue in F Major, BWV 540
14. Benjamin Alard – Toccata in C Minor, BWV 911
15. Benjamin Alard – Prelude and Fugue in A Major, BWV 536a
16. Benjamin Alard – Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 904
17. Benjamin Alard – Toccata in F-Sharp Minor, BWV 910
18. Benjamin Alard – “Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig”, BWV 768 (Chorale Partita)
19. Benjamin Alard – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 538
20. Benjamin Alard – Toccata in G Major, BWV 916
21. Benjamin Alard – I. Allegro
22. Benjamin Alard – II. Adagio
23. Benjamin Alard – III. Allegro
24. Benjamin Alard – Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 699 (Fughetta)
25. Benjamin Alard – Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, BWV 701 (Fughetta)
26. Benjamin Alard – Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BWV 697 (Fughetta)
27. Benjamin Alard – Das Jesulein soll doch mein Trost, BWV 702 (Fughetta)
28. Benjamin Alard – Gottes Sohn ist kommen, BWV 703 (Fughetta)
29. Benjamin Alard – Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott, BWV 704 (Fughetta)
30. Benjamin Alard – Christum wir sollen loben schon, BWV 696 (Fughetta)
31. Benjamin Alard – Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn, BWV 698 (Fughetta)
32. Benjamin Alard – I. Allegro
33. Benjamin Alard – II. Adagio – Allegro
34. Benjamin Alard – III. Allegro
35. Benjamin Alard – I. Adagio – Presto – Adagio – Presto – Grave
36. Benjamin Alard – II. Un poco allegro
37. Benjamin Alard – III. Adagio
38. Benjamin Alard – IV. Vivace
39. Benjamin Alard – Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BWV 722 (Passaggio Chorale)
40. Benjamin Alard – Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich, BWV 732 (Passaggio Chorale)
41. Benjamin Alard – In dulci jubilo, BWV 729 (Passaggio Chorale)
42. Benjamin Alard – Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, BWV 738a (Early version) (Passaggio Chorale)
43. Benjamin Alard – Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 895
44. Benjamin Alard – I. Adagio
45. Benjamin Alard – II. Vivace
46. Benjamin Alard – III. Adagio
47. Benjamin Alard – IV. Prestissimo



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