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The masterful blend of Italian, French and German styles in the six English Suites belies the work of a youthful Bach. Dating from his Weimar years (1708–1714) they are distinguished from the later French Suites and Partitas not least by their magnificent Preludes, but their title remains a mystery. Ketil Haugsand’s recording adds to an already extensive library of English Suite recordings, yet new interpretations are always welcome. Tempi in the often hurried preludes and gigues are intelligent here, with ornamental lines in the allemandes and courantes skilfully executed. Light bourrées and gavottes help to diffuse passionate sarabandes. Effective registration on a German style two-manual harpsichord by Martin Skowroneck ensures melodic clarity and, tuned at A=397Hz, richness too. Haugsand uses all the harpsichordist’s expressive tools, though some listeners may feel to excess, with rhythms even too elastic at times, creating a less vocal approach.

Katharine May Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing