J.S. Bach: The Partitas
Richard Egarr is perhaps most familiar to classical listeners as the director of the Academy of Ancient Music, though his career as a harpsichordist carries equal weight with fans of Baroque keyboard music. Egarr's 2017 Harmonia Mundi release of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Partitas, BWV 825-830" follows his recordings of the "Well-Tempered Clavier," the "English Suites," and the "French Suites," which are essential listening for students of these works. The interpretations are lively and expressive, though this tone is tempered with thoughtfulness, which gives the music a serious quality that balances its rhythmic vitality. Indeed, in his liner notes, Egarr deciphers Bach's underlying clues in the "Partitas," whether musicological, numerological, or theological, and the combination amounts to a profound intellectual puzzle that is belied by the elegance of the dance rhythms. Egarr plays a modern replica by Joel Katzman of a Ruckers harpsichord from 1638, tuned to A=399, and the timbres of the instrument are full and vibrant, with a bright upper register and a warmly resonant bass. The six "Partitas" are divided evenly between two CDs, and because the "Partita No. 3 in A minor, BWV 827" and the "Partita No. 4 in D major, BWV 828" are reversed, they fit neatly without breaks. Harmonia Mundi's recorded sound is reasonably close and transparent, and the acoustics of the Mennonite Church in Haarlem give the music a special luster.