Bach’s great innovation, with the trio sonatas, was to combine their traditional three voices into a single keyboard. This was a tremendous musical adventure, for organ virtuosos and their fans.
But in the everyday, music-loving home, these pieces were often divided back up among whatever instruments and players you happened to have available to you.
If you didn’t happen to have an organ, but wanted to share this wonderful music with your talented friends, it would have sounded very much like this album.
The six trios on this disc were originally composed for solo organ, appearing in a collection of “Six Sonatas, or trios, for two keyboard manuals and pedal” that Bach compiled around 1730, during his tenure as cantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig.
Composed in three independent parts throughout, with an unusually active pedal part, the sonatas are in true Italianate trio-sonata texture, and many of the individual movements are known to have originated as works for chamber ensemble.
On this recording, the recorder plays the part assigned to the organist’s right hand, the violin that of the left hand, and the continuo team that of the pedals.
Awarded CD of the Month – September, 1996 – Alte Musik Aktuell (Germany)
“I hate to admit it, but I like this recording of the trio sonatas better than others which are performed on the organ (even such good recordings such as Ton Koopman’s). The use of different instruments for the top two lines – recorder and violin – make for a greater variety of tone colours, and gives more character to the themes.
“Judy Linsenberg has done a marvelous job of transcribing these works, and even though most of them have been transposed, and sometimes the musical lines have been altered to suit the limited range of the recorder, they come off sounding very natural. For anyone who finds solo organ music abrasive or monotonous, and has been turned off by the trio sonatas, this recording will definitely be welcome. This is one CD that is sure to please any who hear it.”
— Scott Blair, jsbach.org
“I bought this recording based on the above recommendation and it is gorgeous. It gives a whole different feeling to the Trio Sonatas. These expert transcriptions bring these works into the family of Bach’s other instrument music, of which there can never be enough. The performance is virtuoso; their sensitivity to the music is above the average. The equal to any of the European ‘original instruments’ recordings, it is all at once energetic, intimate, elegant, delicate…. I can’t recommend this recording highly enough.”
— Jan Hanford, jsbach.org
* * * * – 4 stars
“Linsenberg has done a fine job of transcribing the sonatas for the group, who play them with a captivating freshness and sparkle, while investing the slow movements with a dreamy enchantment… in terms of rhythmic vitality and joie de vivre, Musica Pacifica has the edge.”
— Goldberg Magazine (Spain), Spring 1998
“Musica Pacifica is made up of some of the finest baroque musicians in America. Their clear, clean sound and preoccupation with music rather than style makes this ensemble one of the best trio sonata ensembles I have heard on disc… the playing just couldn’t be better!”
— American Record Guide, January/February 1997
“A fine debut it is. Linsenberg’s playing is flawless– spirited, clear, beautifully shaped and articulated throughout the whole range of the instrument. She makes the best possible case for her arrangements…. Blumenstock produces a remarkably straight tone, but warm and convincing.”
— Fanfare Magazine, November/December 1996
* * * – 3 stars – Highest rating:
“An outstanding performance and recording in every way. Musica Pacifica is an excellent period-instrument group. Their arrangements of Bach’s organ Trio Sonatas are admirably fresh; Judith Linsenberg, the recorder player who leads the ensemble, plays with fine spirit, while the liveliness of the allegros is matched by striking, often melancholic expressive feeling in slow movements. The recording is first-class.”
— The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs Yearbook, 1997/8
“Musica Pacifica are a group from America’s West Coast, and on the evidence of this recording they have their fair share of skill and musicianship. The arrangements… are never less than utterly convincing, while the recording is admirably lucid and well balanced. It is hard, indeed, to fault them in any way other than to say that the interpretations are a touch on the safe side….”
— Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone
TRY A SAMPLE:
Sonata in F major, after Sonata No. 5 in C major BWV 529, Allegro
Sonata in E minor, after Sonata No. 4 in E minor BWV 528, Andante
Sonata in E minor, after Sonata No. 4 in E minor BWV 528, Un poc’allegro
Sonata No. 3, III. Vivace
Sonata No. 2, I. Vivace
Sonata No. 1, III. Allegro
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Elisabeth Le Guin, cello
Judith Linsenberg, recorder
Edward Parmentier, harpsichord
All arrangements by Judith Linsenberg