- English Suite, for keyboard No. 1 in A major, BWV 806 (BC L13)
- English Suite, for keyboard No. 2 in A minor, BWV 807 (BC L14)
- English Suite, for keyboard No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808 (BC L15)
- English Suite, for keyboard No. 4 in F major, BWV 809 (BC L16)
- English Suite, for keyboard No. 5 in E minor, BWV 810 (BC L17)
- English Suite, for keyboard No. 6 in D minor, BWV 811 (BC L18)
These are thoughtful interpretations -- scholarly in the best sense -- of Bach's "English Suites," which inexplicably are less often recorded than most of the composer's other major keyboard works. Nobody has been able to determine exactly why they're called English suites; the name was not Bach's own but is of considerable antiquity. In any event, they are suites of the French court dances that enjoyed international popularity in Bach's day, but there are also influences of other music -- Italianate block contrasts, particularly, as well as traces of the more intellectual thinking of Bach's systematic keyboard works. Their eclecticism is their charm, and harpsichordist Peter Watchorn's booklet notes can be singled out for their clear, detailed treatment, treating each work as an individual and describing it, one likes to think, in terms a Baroque listener would have found relevant and enjoyed. His performances are something like those notes: variegated, skillful, and somewhat deliberate. Watchorn takes all repeats, resulting in two CDs that are packed to the digital gills with music. He brings out the details he writes about, such as the impressive evocation of a Vivaldian orchestral crescendo in the Prelude of the "Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808." An added attraction is the newly built harpsichord by American maker Walter Burr, a copy of a sonorous 1760 French instrument that would have delighted a player of the middle eighteenth century. There are Bach performances with greater impulse power than these, but Watchorn's readings, part of a series devoted to Bach's keyboard works, are recommended to anyone engaged in the rewarding task of closely studying the "English Suites."