Title: Bach Keyboard Works on Guitar
Artist: Daniel Estrem
Release Date: 2015 Jan 08
License: CC BY-NC-SA
I have to admit, the music of Daniel Estrem is the kind of pleasure that one rarely finds these days. I first heard Daniels works several years ago, and instantly fell in love with his style. Even moreso, he recorded a release of Grieg Lyric Suite miniatures back in 2010, which I love dearly, and his version was just fantastic to hear.
Daniel Estrem: Bach Keyboard Works on Guitar
I know there are many purists who passionately dislike the idea of performing Bach works in arrangements other than the original. And, to those people, it would be bad enough hearing these works on a modern piano instead of a harpsichord or a clavichord. Many of them, I feel, still have a distaste for this based on recordings in which artists felt free to re-interpret Bach’s works by changing things like tempos, phrasing, and dynamics of the works. Indeed, I find that many of those recordings were somewhat distasteful, and yet, I cannot help but think that many artists learned some important lessons from those recordings.
Daniel Estrem’s arrangements and recording are generally not marred by the kinds of mistakes made performers in the past. They do, at points, contain some light mild additions to phrasing in the works, and occasionally have some interesting choices of tempo, however none of the these choices hurt these recordings. In fact, I believe that they are more used to make the arrangements sound more authentic and idiomatic on the guitar.
And then there are the arrangements. These are where these recordings really sparkle. Daniel has paid close attention to the detail of the original pieces, and has taken care to make arrangements of these works that not only preserve their integrity, but sound as if they are one a one-for-one transcription of the original works, despite the difficulties this can impose on the musician. In some cases it is obvious that the works had to be arranged for multiple guitars, and so they are. The result is nothing short of wonderful. One cannot think that Bach himself might have created these arrangements if he had been asked to do so.
The recording itself is first class. The guitar(s) are not too far forward, nor are they engulfed in reverb as if they were recorded in a cave. In fact, the delicate balance and staging of the sound puts this recording in a class with many of the best recordings of small ensembles and string quartets that I have listened to.
On this recording, Daniel has chose the following works for his guitar treatment:
- Organ Sonata No. 5 in C major, BWV 529
- The French Suite No 3 in B minor, BWV 814
- Shubler Chorales No. 3, BWV 647
- Suite in E-flat major, BWV 819
- Trio in D minor, BWV 583
Encompassing the later French Suite and Suit in E-flat major by the earlier works makes for a fine, and varied performance that showcases the depth of love and knowledge of Bach’s works.
Daniel Estrem: Bach Keyboard Works on Guitar is adds another exceptionally fine recording to his catalog. His recordings have been personal favorites in my library for a long time. He has produced some twenty nine recordings that have been released on Magnatune, the majority of which are arrangements of works by Bach for guitar. This recording is a fine addition to the the impressive catalog that Daniel has produced. It’s an excellent recording that will satisfy anyone who appreciates Bach. These arrangements are exceptionally detailed, maintain the original nature of the work, while being idiomatic to the guitar. Basically an astonishing recording that I’ve loved every note of, and will love every note for years to come.