Sonia Rubinsky: JS Bach, Magna Sequentia II, A Grand Suite of Dances

review rubinsky x1 cong - Copy

Rubinsky has compiled this CD so it’s not in any order Bach would have recognised.

There are 17 segments in a sequence, selected by Rubinsky to make an “expanded Baroque dance suite” as the sleeve notes explain. This rather explains the album: 17 pieces of music linked in some way, mostly dances. They are selected from his French suites and partitas.

We can’t work out if the order is meant to represent anything, like an evening’s concert, from arrival to departure. The opening piece is complex and played quickly; the sleeve notes say the dances are stylised, so presumably for listening to and not dancing.
The selection appears to offer a varied programme, from the fast to the slower and more thoughtful, as well as from the more ornate and romantic to the more austere (“the ornate and sophisticated French school, virtuosic Italian writing, and the stricter fugal writing of the German style” as the sleeve notes have it). This means that while it’s interesting to listen to, it sometimes feels as if it lacks a central theme.

The playing is good, and she clearly loves Bach, that feeling adding warmth to the music. Bach purists might not like the breadth but for anyone who likes the piano, it’s nice selection of music.

This is out now on Naxos, 8.574027.

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