Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard - Mercero, Sebastián
Eudora Records EUD-SACD-2205 (2 discs)
Classical - Chamber
Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard
Andoni Mercero (violin)
Alfonso Sebastián (harpsichord)
Bach’s Six Sonata cycle for violin and harpsichord ranks among the best examples of the Baroque Trio Sonata repertoire. Unlike common practice, both instruments participate equally in the unfolding of the thematic-motivic material and the keyboard part is almost entirely specified by Bach. Andoni Mercero, former member of the Cuarteto Casals, proves the point that you do not have to be world famous to make a reference recording: His warm and silvery timbre shines while Alfonso Sebastián’s skillfully manages to bring superb ensemble playing, both highlighting the majesty of these works. Eudora Records’ audiophile engineering and the warm and immersive acoustics of the San Miguel Church, in Daroca (Zaragoza, Spain), allow the textures to blossom with its exquisite sound.
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- Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata for Violin and Keyboard No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1014
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata for Violin and Keyboard No. 2 in A major, BWV 1015
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata for Violin and Keyboard No. 3 in E major, BWV 1016
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata for Violin and Keyboard No. 4 in C minor, BWV 1017
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata for Violin and Keyboard No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1018
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata for Violin and Keyboard No. 6 in G major, BWV 1019
Review by Adrian Quanjer - September 24, 2022
Eudora Records has done the classical community a great service by promoting to great and often surprising avail, Spanish musicians that deserve to be more widely known, whilst guaranteeing the listener state-of-the-art sound. This latest release of this young and enterprising label is a set of Bach’s six Sonatas for violin and keyboard, done in style with a baroque violin and harpsichord.
Normally, I would have taken out the only other available set recorded in high-resolution multi-channel (Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord - Höbarth, Häkkinen) for comparison. However, when reviewing this set some years ago, I suggested “to wait for another, better defined, and more detailed recording”. So, here it is.
Detailed and particularly well-informed liner notes in English and Spanish are included in the booklet, but nothing about the musicians. The violinist, Andoni Mercero, may be sufficiently known in Spain, but prospective buyers may want to know more about Mercero’s baroque credentials. For instance, that he is a regular concertmaster of the Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla, that he has worked with Café Zimmermann, Le Concert des Nations (Jordi Savall), Le Parlement de Musique (Martin Gester), and with I Barocchisti (Diego Fasolis).
Alfonso Sebastián specialized in fortepiano (Patrick Cohën-Akenine) and studies of orchestral conducting (Claire Levacher) at the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Danse de Paris, and is now also listed (ArtistInfo Web) as an organist and harpsichordist working with the Spanish early music ensemble Los Músicos de Su Alteza.
Together, they have performed these sonatas for many years ‘on stage’, and this performance ‘on record’ gives ample proof of exemplary teamwork, whereby the melody of each of the three voices (Violin and two hands at the harpsichord) blends perfectly into one harmonious unity. Both play with a high degree of compassion and commitment, though not as precise and pitch controlled as Rachel Podger supported by Trevor Pinnock (Channel Classics CCS 14798), recorded in 2020. For many still a reference but not available in Super Audio. I cannot compare it with another contender, Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard - Faust, Bezuidenhout, as I don’t have it. But please note that this one is a stereo recording only.
So, there we are. I think that Eudora with two baroque experts calling the tune and its considered feeling of unobtrusive roominess is now the best available choice for a complete set in high resolution.
The six Sonatas are in chronological order (1-3 and 4-6) divided over two SACDs, packed in a double folding carton box. The recording (DSD 256, 5.0) was made in a church (Iglesia de San Miguel, Daroca, Zaragoza, Spain), but sound wizard Gonzalo Noqué avoided any hint of unwanted echo in the recording. Both instruments are well balanced, the warm tone of the harpsichord with some help of the master.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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