J.S. Bach: Six Trio Sonatas BWV 525-530 arranged for Two Harpsichords by David Ponsford

My justification for arranging these works for two harpsichords derives from the preface to François Couperin’s L’apothéose de Lully (1725) in which he describes the manner in which he often played trio sonatas on two harpsichords:

Trios . . . can be played on two harpsichords . . . I play them with my family and pupils with very happy success, namely, by playing the first treble part and the bass on one of the harpsichords; and the second treble part and the same bass on the other harpsichord tuned to the same pitch.

Now, it is highly unlikely that Couperin knew Bach’s Organ Trio Sonatas, but one of Couperin’s musical missions was to render equal status to Italian and French styles, and many of his trio movements are written in Italian style. Likewise, Bach’s trio sonatas are thoroughly Italian in style. Hence, for me, the experiment of arranging Bach’s Organ Trio Sonatas (BWV 525-530) was too tempting to resist. Furthermore, with two harpsichords whose compasses extend down to bottom FF, a fifth lower than the organ, opportunities are presented for playing the bass down an octave, at both 8-foot and 16-foot pitches, and both the harpsichordists’ right hands have the potential to fill in some continuo chords when opportunities arise. The result is a transformation of these famous trio sonatas, giving them a character that is neither better nor worse than interpretations on the organ, but very different and no less exciting. David Ponsford 2020

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'The recording conveys a compelling sense of dialogue and sociability between two virtuoso musicians equally at one with the material, and the alternation between instruments makes great sense of Bach's antiphony and repeats.' Magnus Williamson, Choir & Organ

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