I'd like to mention a brand new recording of the Bach ENGLISH SUITES by Christophe Rousset.
The big companies are investing little or nothing in this kind of repertoire, but new ones are filling this gap. In this instance, it is a label called AMBROISIE (see email@example.com). The issue is lavishly composed and the notes are interesting. But let’s go to what really matters – the interpretation.
Rousset’s previous Bach records were interesting. He was the pupil of Asperen and Leonhardt, but he felt the agogic and rhythmic approach of the Dutch school was not appropriate for him. He therefore received further formation with Kenneth Gilbert.
In his early recordings one could quite easily detect Gilbert’s influence: the musical phrase reigned supreme and, in particular with French harpsichord music, it was just sublime.
With Bach, I think he showed less brilliance. His Goldbergs were very good but not outstanding, and his Partitas were, again, quite good but less interesting than, say, Leohnardt’s or Gilbert’s.
With this record he seems to have come of age. He has a very clear individuality, and his English suites are his own version – you cannot sense Leonhartd’s or Gilbert’s influence. It is Christophe Rousset, the master, not the former pupil of A or b you are listening to.
Let’s start with the instrument he chose. It is a Johannes Rückers 1632 remade in France in 1745. It is, thus, a Flemish French double. The sound is a marvel: brilliant but with body and deep basses and the precision only French keyboards allow.
As to version itself. The English suites were never very easy music.