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Bach: French Suites


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Accuracy, authenticity, edifying listening 31 Aug. 2004
By Leslie Richford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Professor Davitt Moroney is one of today's leading experts on Johann Sebastian Bach's harpsichord music and is particularly celebrated for his complete recording of Bach's "Art of Fugue" for Harmonia Mundi. Moroney studied with Kenneth Gilbert and has a penchant for strict authenticity and accuracy. That may be why this recording of Bach's French Suites is longer than most: Moroney includes every note including all the repeats and even the recently-discovered second Gavotte from Suite Number 4. As this 1990 Virgin Classics recording is exemplary in its clarity, the whole makes for some edifying and even exciting listening for those who love Bach in period performance. (You would hardly know you were listening to the same music that Glenn Gould recorded in his inimitable style on a modern piano.)

I do have a couple of quibbles, however. The choice of a copy of the famous Ruckers/Taskin harpsichord of 1780 by John Phillips does yield a beautiful tone throughout, yet this harpsichord is of strictly French provenience and would, in my opinion, be more suited to Rameau than Bach, whose "French Suites" would most likely have been played by the composer himself on a German or Saxon instrument which would have sounded robuster and somewhat less elegant. In fact, the whole recording tends to turn Bach into a French composer: Moroney plays the music very much in the French style, and the music was even recorded in a French château! It should perhaps be borne in mind that Bach never travelled to France; he was firmly rooted in the Eastern-Central parts of Germany.

This budget-priced re-issue comes with practically no background information; the accompanying text is only one booklet-page long and contains nothing about the music itself except for the unqualified statement that these suites are "perfect expressions of the French harpsichord style".
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Unassuming excellence 22 Nov. 2005
By Kris Marker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There is a comparison on the web somewhere of some different renditions of the French Suites on harpsichord (and one on piano I think). The reviewer initially doesn't seem to think very highly of Davitt Moroney's interpretation, but as he goes on, Suite by Suite, begins warming up to it and finally concludes it's one of the best. I can understand that review because the playing is, in a way, unassuming. Yet, it is masterful. And quite inviting. This last quality magnifies the effect of Suite #4's opening, which, for me, is that of invitation to a magnificent realm. The playing out of that realm here reveals the integrity of the Suites and their individual characters quite nicely. Just excellent.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
One of the best Bach CD's I've ever bought! 5 May 2003
By Ali Pezeshkpour - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the best CD�s I�ve ever bought. The performer knows just how to play each piece on the harpsichord so that the ornamentation does not steal from beauty of the actual music yet so that his skill in interpreting the music is clearly displayed. Each dance�s repeats are played, allowing your ears to indulge in each dance twice. In fact, the music was recorded so well that I decided to learn Suite 3 in B minor. This collection builds the case for proving just how much of a genius Bach was.
13 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Stolid, unshapely, objective Bach 12 Jun. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the old-fashioned Bach that we thought the early-music movement had swept away. Moroney's rhythmic sense is one governed by the "unelasticher Takt" notion promulgated in the 20's and 30's. Since the 1960's, however, early-music specialists have been arguing that such fixity in rhythm and tempo is distinctly anti-historical for Bach. Where has Moroney been during all this heady debate? His rhythmic sense seems born of 1945.
There is little sweep or gesture in this recording to recommend it. Likewise, his range of articulations is narrow and inexpressive.
In addition, I find the harpsichord he plays singularly uninteresting, it's tone lacking in behavior.
1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Documentary Bach, for those who like their Bach uninterpreted 1 Aug. 2007
By Artusi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording will serve those who want the aural equivalent of an Urtext edition very well. The performance is objective in every sense, being uninflected by an evident interpretation. Much better are the Leonhardt, Cates, Brookshire, and Rousset recordings, by a very wide margin. Each of these recordings features a distinctive interpretive approach that one can like or dislike. Moroney's approach will offend no one, but will likely bore many. This recording is representative of the pseudo-authenticity that reached a peak in popularity around 1980, but which has not worn well, have been superceded by a new wave of early music performers, each with his or her own voice. Moroney plays much as an editor edits, seeking absolute "transparency" through his unwillingness to inflict his own hand on the "text."
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