Harpsichord albums typically serve up a heaping portion of a composer’s closely related works. On this album, however, Chicago’s David Schrader presents a platter of four differently-seasoned Bach compositions.
The recording opens with the lyrical Italian Concerto in F Major, BWV 971. In the program notes, Schrader describes this piece as "the apotheosis of Bach’s many transcriptions from the works of many Italian composers."
The ornate Overture in the French Manner, BWV 831 (also known as the Partita in B minor), emulates the ornamentation, forms, and melodic inventions of the French style of the first half of the 18th century.
The meat of the program, the brilliantly improvisatory Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue in D minor, BWV 903, is quintessentially German and propelled by virtuosity.
The stately English Suite No. 1 in A Major, BWV 806, generally available only in a complete set of the six English Suites, seems predominantly French in its ornamentation, but with a thicker texture that suggests a German heritage. (How this stylistic hybrid and it’s companion suites became known as "English" remains a mystery; it wasn’t Bach’s idea.)
The entire Bach á la Carte program could be called "chromatic," with its extraordinarily wide range of colors owing to the instrument, Schrader’s playing, and Bach’s writing, observes Cedille producer Jim Ginsburg.
The double-manual harpsichord used in the recording was built in 1992 by Paul Y. Irvin of Glenview, Illinois. Its acoustical design is modeled on a 1638 Flemish instrument.