Friday, 24 July 2015

Bach - Alio Modo - Fretwork

Rating: 5/5

Another gem from Fretwork

This is another gem from Fretwork. They have been producing superb recordings for almost 30 years now, and this is among their best, I think.

The music presented here is a programme of transcriptions of some of Bach's keyboard works, some for organ and some for harpsichord. The transcriptions for between three and five viols were made by the brilliant Richard Boothby and work extremely well. Bach himself was an inveterate recycler and transcriber, so this is very much in the composers own idiom, even if a consort of viols isn't something Bach himself would have composed for. The organ pieces especially have a lovely coherent feel here, but it's all terrific stuff and is a very welcome airing for some music which might not otherwise be widely heard.

The playing is, as always, brilliant. Fretwork are simply a world-class ensemble with superb technique, a magnificent sound and a sense of the music and of each other which is a joy. They bring real meaning to every piece in this quite varied programme - it is chamber playing of the highest order.

The only Fretwork disc I have ever been less than keen on was their transcription of The Goldberg Variations, which just didn't quite seem to lend themselves to transcription for viol consort. These Bach pieces, however, lend themselves to it very well and they have been quite superbly transcribed, played and recorded here. The notes are good and the presentation attractive, and this is a really excellent disc all round which I can recommend very warmly indeed.

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