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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67451/2
Recording details: April 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: September 2003
Total duration: 20 minutes 31 seconds

English Suite No 5 in E minor, BWV810

Prelude  [4'37]
Allemande  [4'18]
Courante  [2'30]
Sarabande  [3'01]
Gigue  [2'46]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
For the Prelude of the English Suite No 5 in E minor, BWV810 Bach chooses a fugal construction with a strong, arresting subject that is characteristic for him when writing in that key. The countersubject uses the ‘turn’ motive that also appears frequently in his music, and one that can be incredibly difficult to play for long periods if the mind is at all tired. The episodes once more provide welcome contrast, and the bridge back to the da capo is totally seamless. At first, the Allemande can seem a bit severe, but in fact it is the most poignant of the six. The jarring dissonances in bar 15 take us by surprise on first hearing and need space to speak. It is lovely how Bach then clears the air in the next three bars with some simple major harmonies. The Courante is also the most original and interesting of the set. Its main feature is the accentuation of certain downbeats by effectively shortening the preceding note, giving it a graceful ‘lift’, and then adding an appoggiatura, ornament or arpeggiated chord on the first beat of the bar.

We might have expected an ornate, harmonically complex Sarabande in this suite, but instead Bach writes a simple, homophonic one in galant style. It is nevertheless immensely touching. The dots over the last four quavers in the first bar are to be found in some copies and can add just the right character if not over-emphasised. The part-writing is perfect throughout, and leads us to a moment of darkness in bars 13–14. It is quickly dispelled with an ascending sequence before the final descent. Now come a pair of Passepieds, a dance full of charm and executed with nimble movements. We must feel light on our feet in these! The first is written as a Rondeau with a returning refrain—a common occurrence in the music of Couperin, but not so frequent in Bach (although we immediately think of the Rondeau of the Partita No 2 in C minor). The second Passepied is played in the top half of the keyboard and once more is a musette with a pedal point. To stir things up again, Bach finishes with a Gigue fugue that has a remarkable, uncompromising subject in 3/8 time. It uses wide leaps and descending two-note chromatic figures to make its point; and of course after the double bar, it all gets inverted. The countersubjects, too, are all chromatically based. In writing about the English Suites, Forkel singled out this Gigue, along with the one in the final suite, as ‘perfect masterpieces of original harmony and melody’. Nobody but Bach could have written it.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2003

Other albums featuring this work
'Bach: Angela Hewitt plays Bach' (CDS44421/35)
Bach: Angela Hewitt plays Bach
MP3 £45.00FLAC £45.00ALAC £45.00Buy by post £50.00 CDS44421/35  15CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Bach: The English Suites' (SACDA67451/2)
Bach: The English Suites
This album is not yet available for download SACDA67451/2  2CDs Super-Audio CD — Deleted  
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