- French Suite, for keyboard No. 6 in E major, BWV 817 (BC L24)
- French Suite, for keyboard No. 5 in G major, BWV 816 (BC L23)
- French Suite, for keyboard No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 815 (BC L22)
- French Suite, for keyboard No. 3 in B minor, BWV 814 (BC L21)
- French Suite, for keyboard No. 2 in C minor, BWV 813 (BC L20)
- French Suite, for keyboard No. 1 in D minor, BWV 812 (BC L19)
Vladimir Ashkenazy has turned increasingly often to Bach in his old age, releasing this set of the "French Suites" for keyboard in the summer of 2017, when he was just turning 80. It makes a good way into his Bach approaches, on a single disc. Ashkenazy avoids monumental Bach, a tendency that works especially well with the "French Suites," which are somehow domestic works. Sample one of the outer movements, perhaps the opening movement of the "French Suite No. 2 in C minor, BWV 813." Ashkenazy begins circumspectly, offering a tour de force of structure achieved through subtle phrasing and articulation, keeping the tempo steady until, well into the motion toward the central cadences, he allows some rubato. The whole thing is on a slow burn, and he gets excellent engineering support from Decca, working in Hyperion's favorite venues, Suffolk's Potton Hall. It all has the effect of drawing you into a session with an aging master, who will take you an a quiet, deliberate, and often fascinating tour through some familiar works. Those not on board with the old pianistic Bach, and those desiring brilliant dance rhythms in what are after all suites of dances, may not connect with Ashkenazy here, but taken on its own terms, it's a fascinating Bach recording.