Bach: A Cembalo Certato E Violino Solo

A Cembalo Certato E Violino Solo
Bach: Complete Sonatas for obligato harpsichord and violin, plus 
Sonatas by CPE Bach, Graun, Schaffrath, Scheibe, Telemann

Phillipe Grisvard, Johannes Pramsohler
Audax Records. ADX 13783. 3CDS. 60’28, 73’10,75’07

Johann Sebastian Bach: Complete Sonatas for Harpsichord and Violin
BWV 1014–1019, BWV 1022, BWV 1020
Johann Adolph Scheibe: 3 Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord
Christoph Schaffrath: Concerto in A Minor CSWV F:30
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Sonata in B Minor, Wq 76
Johann Gottlieb Graun: Sonata in B-flat Major GWV Av:XV:46
Georg Philipp Telemann: Concerto in D Major, TWV 42:D6

This 3-CD package sets Bach’s Sei Sonate a Cembalo certato e Violino solo (together with two others whose authenticity is questioned) against similar pieces by other composers of Bach’s time, several of which are world premiere recordings. Each CD is a complete concert in itself, with two or three of the Bach Sonatas, a Sonata by Johann Adolph Scheibe plus related pieces by Georg Philipp Telemann & Christoph Schaffrath (CD1), Johann Gottlieb Graun (CD2), and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (CD3).

Although Bach’s “Sei Sonate a Cembalo certato e Violino solo” might appear to be a one-off, this recording demonstrates the influence on Bach’s contemporaries and on Bach’s pupils. Johannes Pramsohler and Philippe Grisvard explore the impact of Bach’s sonata model on his immediate successors. The result is an inspiring reflection of the violin sonata genre in Bach’s time.

As ever with Pramsohler’s recordings, the performances are excellent. My only quibble is the balance between the solo violinist and the harpsichord. The violin sounds very close and the latter appears to come from way behind the violin. That is particularly unfortunate for these Bach pieces because, as the title suggests, the harpsichord was to be at least an equal voice to the violin, and probably even the prominent one. The recording was made in the SWR2 studios which I assume is not the same space as shown on the promotional video on the Audax website which shows the performers close together.

Of the non-Bach pieces, there are no duds. I particularly like the Graun Sonata, one of five premiere recordings.