Bist du bei mir – Anna Magdalena Bach’s Book
Jacob Lawrence (boy soprano)
Elizabeth Anderson (harpsichord)
MOVE MCD 3304
reviewed by Neville Cohn
Innumerable young piano pupils have cut their musical teeth on the easier pieces contained in the Notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach such as the two ubiquitous Minuets in G, routinely massacred by indifferently taught youngsters blissfully ignorant of the elegance and stateliness that lie at their heart.
It takes a musician of high order, such as Elizabeth Anderson (in superb form) to reveal the magic enshrined in these deceptively easy miniatures and her every contribution provides unalloyed listening delight. Indeed, I’ve returned to this recording on a number of occasions for the pleasure of experiencing Anderson’s artistry.
How gratifyingly she mines each piece for its aesthetic essence. The French Suite in D minor is meticulously detailed as is the Partita No 3 in A minor. I especially admired the Burlesca which unfolds at a good, sturdy pace – and Anderson elsewhere taps into the joyousness that is enshrined in so many of the movements, not least the finely detailed Gigue.
Among the delights of this compilation is Les Bergeries, its phrasing shaped to allow the music to breathe in the most musical way. And that mainstay of eisteddfod competitions – the Solo per il Cembalo (by C.P.E.Bach) is given splendidly emphatic rhythmic underpinning. The little March in E flat is magically buoyant.
There are also a number of tracks devoted to the singing of boy soprano Jacob Lawrence. Although I am sure that great seriousness of purpose was brought to these recordings, some disconcertingly uneven intonation is problematical.
Not the least of the pleasures of this offering is the quality of the liner notes; they make fascinating reading and contribute in a very real way to enhancing listening pleasure.
Neville Cohn Copyright 2006