Bach - Italian Concerto, French Overture etc

Steven Devine (harpsichord)

Chandos Records - Chan0802

Chandos Bach Cover

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J.S. Bach: Works for Harpsichord

The 'Italian' Concerto and 'French' Overture included on this album together make up the second part of Bach’s Clavier-Übung, composed, according to Bach himself, 'for music lovers to refresh their spirits'. Here Steven Devine's performances show that these works do far more than simply refresh spirits. The ‘Italian’ Concerto has long been thought a product of Bach's extensive study of Vivaldi’s concerti. It is full of allusions to the style of the Italian orchestral concerto but the idiomatic keyboard writing, particularly in the exquisitely ornamented slow movement, clearly shows the work’s conception as a virtuoso keyboard piece. The large scale of the 'French' Overture's opening movement is unprecedented in the work of Bach, being his longest single keyboard movement. It is grandiose and imposing in character and stands in contrast to the seven shorter, more delicate dance movements that follow. Alongside these large-scale works are the Aria variata 'alla maniera italiana', the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903, and the Fantasia in C minor, BWV 906.

Steven Devine plays a double-manual harpsichord by Colin Booth (2000) after Fleischer (1710), which throughout the programme allows him to bring out Bach’s idiomatic contrasts in dynamics and colour.


"Beyond any shadow of doubt, if you like your Bach on harpsichord this is a disc you simply must have on your wish-list. Steven Devine is his own man when it comes to performance, but his playing avoids artificiality while introducing plenty of individual character. The recording is detailed and crisp without being over-direct and fatiguing, and Chandos’s presentation is beyond reproach."
Read the whole review here.

"It's a lineup oozing virtuosic exuberance, and, as in his heel-kicking additions to the ouverture's Echo, Devine can do 'brilliance'; but he's never interested in virtuosity for its own sake." BBC Music Magazine

Connoisseurs'Choice: "The playing from Steven Devine is fantastic as is the recording quality"David Mellor, ClassicFm, the New Releases Show

"This recommendable CD of some of Bach’s greatest works for the harpsichord, well played with a touch of flair and an individual interpretative approach that removes much of this music from the museum and brings it into our living-rooms, where it belongs..." Robert Matthew-Walker - International Record Review - June 2014