Phantasm - J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Consort – I - Diapason

Les archets experts de Phantasm dessinent chaque atmosphère avec subtilité, usant de leurs ressources rhétoriques et dynamiques pour ne jamais laisser la musique s’enfermer dans un camaïeu de gris ou d’ocres. […] Le choix intelligent des pièces et la variété des affects convoqués par les musiciens n’oublient jamais d’y ouvrir ces havres consolateurs de joie, de chaleur et de lumière qui sont au cœur même de l’art de Bach. 

In spite of his stay in Lüneburg from 1700 to 1702 in a northern part of Germany very hospitable to English musicians, there is no evidence that the young Bach was in contact with groups close to the consort of viols, which were already obsolete at the time. On the other hand, many of his later works show his attachment to an instrument that was then in its twilight years.

Phantasm is not the first ensemble to attempt the transcription for the viols of the complex polyphonic works elaborated by the Cantor in his collections for the keyboard, here mainly the Well-tempered Clavier and the Third Part of the Clavier-Übung … Bach's writing lends itself particularly well to an approach that highlights the wealth of his ideas and the precision of his lines, while at the same time reinforcing his expressivity through such chromatic detours as the 3- and 6-voice Ricercars from The Musical Offering as well as enhancing his fluidity when a prelude is dances or wanders freely, or when a fugue flows like a stream that is both crystal-clear and melancholy.

Phantasm's expert bows depict each musical scene with finesse, using their rhetorical and rhythmic powers to ensure that the music never becomes confined within a grey or ochre colour scheme. This demanding programme, suffused with a sometimes painful interiority (as in the Fugue BWV 869, on the verge of tears), welcomes those who grant it the concentration it deserves. The clever choice of pieces and the variety of moods conjured up by the musicians never forget to invite the listener into those consoling havens of joy, warmth and light which are at the very heart of Bach's art.

01 April 2020