Harpsichord expert Peter Watchorn teams up with violinist Emilyn Ngai in this recording of Bach's 'second most difficult' solo violin works - the violin sonatas BWV 1014-1019.
Decades ago, Bach key-board sensation Glenn Gould gave a pianoforte recording of these works with violinist Laredo in a controversial yet much-loved recording.
I am happy to report that this 21st century recording (made in 2002) by baroque violin expert Emilyn Ngai and eminent harpsichordist Peter Watchorn has much to offer, if not more, than its eminent predecessor.
Ngai reputedly won the Locatelli Competition for baroque violin in 1995 at Amsterdam. Thereafter, this relatively little-known violinist formed the Adaskin Trio for modern violin performances, as well as taking the place of concert master of the baroque ensemble Tempesta di Mare at Boston.
His playing in this recording's various pieces are brilliant. It is periodically informed, yet never abusive. The music flows most naturally, disallowing the listener any feeling of tightness or any hint of technical strain. Ngai's alertness to style and rhythm in Bach's works singles him out as a true interpretor without giving in a single inch to mannerisms that beset many periodically informed performances of baroque works.
Peter Watchorn's harpsichord, although plays only second fiddle in these pieces, is similarly brilliant. If one cannot give up Gould's vintage recording, one should at least give Watchorn a listen, just to savour the difference.
These pieces are without doubt one of the most beautiful compositions by J S Bach, and should not only find favour with violin afficionados or baroque fans.
Just one minor quibble - my own set does not have the third disc on the dissertation by Watchorn.