For several decades, as solo harpsichordist and director of his ensemble Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini has been exploring not just the Italian repertoire that he is so passionate about but also the works of Bach - as in his benchmark recording of the Brandenburg Concertos in 2005. In this new recording, Alessandrini has mounted a challenge to all currently available recordings of those four Orchestral Suites that Bach called ‘Overtures’, after their imposing opening movements. It’s uncertain when these dance suites were composed or where they were first performed but they were certainly played in Leipzig at the time Bach was directing its celebrated Collegium Musicum.
Here Alessandrini has once again sifted all available sources, putting the composer’s entire output under the microscope to identify the most authentic details of style and orchestration. The result is a subtle balance between Bach’s intricate contrapuntal writing and the spontaneity of his dances, with their French and Italian influences. Together with these majestic, festive, radiant works by JS Bach, Concerto Italiano presents two Overtures in the same instrumental mould by Johann Bernhard and Johann Ludwig Bach - two composer cousins with whom Johann Sebastian enjoyed lifelong ties of mutual friendship and esteem. During his Leipzig years he had their Overtures copied out, so he could perform them with the Collegium Musicum. Here then is a welcome opportunity to hear these two superb orchestral pieces in the contemporary context of Bach’s own music.