Subtitled In the French Style, this third volume in Benjamin Alard’s already essential survey of Bach’s music for solo keyboard ventures into the early maturity of the composer’s years in Weimar. It does so with all the colouristic flair, expressive richness and technical finesse that distinguished its predecessors.
Joining a crowded, competitive catalogue, Alard more than holds his own in this repertoire, although at the current rate of one release per year his 17-volume project won’t conclude until 2034. The journey, though long, promises to be immensely rewarding.
Two harpsichord recitals bookend the middle, organ-focused disc. Each positively delights in their pronounced dance elements, Alard eloquently exploiting the sense of experimentation that flows through the suites while also finding ravishing reserves of poetry. Delicate miniatures by François Couperin and Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer pertinently punctuate the first disc to counterpoint the incrementally robust confidence of Bach’s own language, a quality captured with nuanced imagination by Alard.
Similarly, cameo appearances by Nicolas de Grigny and André Raison on the organ disc provide piquant (if fleeting) nods to Bach’s wider context, as does...