Bach’s English suites are characterized by their quasi-improvisational opening preludes and dance movements, which contain a wide range of moods and styles, lively dances and the contemplative intensity of the slow Sarabandes. The performance on two guitars adds great value.
The fresh and historically sound arrangements for two guitars of these six masterpieces by the Montenegrin Guitar Duo were rightly called “simply ravishing” by the American Record Guide. The guitarists from the Balkan state remained faithful to the spirit of the original scores. Much has remained unaffected in their arrangements.
The requirements of the Suites are not overly challenging for a harpsichordist, but for a guitar duo the movements require a fast tempo and great virtuosity. Goran Krivokapić and Danijel Cerovic play the works in the tempi Bach intended. For guitar lovers and all other music lovers alike, these are two absolutely essential CDs. What’s more, they are beautifully recorded.
The final Suite, No. 6, opens in choral style in 9/8, with elegant, broken chords. This is interrupted by a sudden acceleration, leading to a brilliantly fugal Allegro. This is the most extensive of all the Préludes in the English suites. The Allemande that follows is, in comparison – with beautiful, contrapuntal writing and ingenious modulations – an oasis of calm and the Courante unites a melodic line in French style with a sparkling, running bass. The Sarabande, in 3/2, has a hymn-like dignity and The Double extends the emotional range with a filigree woven texture that creates a fine sonority. The contrasting pair of Gavottes with a perky walking bass accompaniment brings the atmosphere of a pastoral dance. The second Gavotte evokes images of wind instruments that play a rustic chorus.
The Gigue, in 12/16, is virtuosic both in the compositional sense and in the technical requirements it places on the performers. Bach’s incomparable and unsurpassed skill is on full display here….leading to the formidable finale. Pure, warm, intimate; in short, played fantastically. Magnificent! Not to be missed!
Loose translation of the original review written in Dutch.