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J.S. Bach, Couperin, Fischer, Froberger & Fux: Meditation

J.S. Bach, Couperin, Fischer, Froberger & Fux: Meditation

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Andreas Staier’s informed and inspired interpretations have left their mark on the discography of both the harpsichord and the fortepiano and have enabled us to see Bach, Mozart and Schubert in a completely new light. This is Staier’s first solo album of a projected series for Alpha Classics, in which he also presents his own compositions for the first time. “Two motifs connect the works in this recording: the first is a ancient cantus firmus, a melody in long notes […] the second is the interval sequence of octave, fifth, sixth, and third. […] Anklange, my six pieces for harpsichord, grew out of several conversations I had with the composer Brice Pauset about what it means to compose in our time, and in particular what it implies to compose for historical instruments. This led me to ask myself how I could express and capture my own conception of music in notes, marked as it is not only by Byrd, Bach and Schubert, but also by the music of the 20th and 21st centuries."


This release is a good example of Andreas Staier’s intelligent program building, both intellectually and musically speaking. Two motifs form a thread that runs through most of the works assembled here. One is the note sequence E–F-sharp–A–G-sharp–F-sharp–E that appears in Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer’s E major Prelude and Fugue from Ariadne Musica, Bach’s E major Prelude and Fugue from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, plus Froberger’s Fantasia II and Ricercar IV (the latter transposed to begin with G). The other motif is based on a sequence of intervals: octave, fifth, sixth, and third. Other pre-Bach composers include Louis Couperin and Johann Joseph Fux

At the recital’s midpoint, Staier features his own six pieces for harpsichord composed in 2020 that comprise a suite entitled Anklänge. His style forgoes tonality for the most part, yet his boundless palette of sonorities, his dramatic registral deployment, and his instincts for when and how to leave space all generate palpable tension and release. The fourth piece, for example, makes arresting use of thick spread chords that resonate for a long time under the fingers, while No. 6 features aphoristic lines that unfold like skywriting, with plenty of air between each utterance.

Indeed, resonance and breathing room characterize Staier’s performing style, which revels in the colorful variety of stops offered on his harpsichord modeled after a 1734 Hieronymus Albrecht Hass model. You’ll notice this in how Staier times and differentiates his arpeggiations of chords throughout the Couperin Pavane, as well as in the melting impact of his masterful finger legato in the Froberger Meditation. Surprisingly, Staier takes a forthright tempo for the aforementioned Bach Fugue, where his octave couplings have a rather upholstered effect that, for my taste, works against the music’s reflective and vocally oriented nature. Still, Staier remains the masterful instrumentalist and thinking musician that has long enamored me to his extensive and wide-ranging discography.

-- (Jed Distler)

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Product Description:

  • Release Date: February 16, 2024

  • UPC: 3701624510124

  • Catalog Number: ALPHA1012

  • Label: Alpha

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Baroque

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Louis Couperin, Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, Johann Jakob Froberger, Johann Joseph Fux

  • Performer: Andreas Staier