Whatever the elusive truth may be regarding the ‘Englishness’ of these ‘Six Suittes avec leurs Preludes’, there is no denying the imagination of the keyboard writing. Each Suite is headed by a Prelude of substantial proportions, followed by wonderfully varied dance movements, all perfectly suited to showcase the joyful brilliance of Richard Egarr’s harpsichord skill.
“as a player I find personally the most pleasure in the earlier keyboard collections. The Toccatas, Well-Tempered Clavier’s Book 1, Brandenburg 5 and the so-called ‘English’ Suites seem to delight in purely physical keyboard pleasure and imagination that is often absent from the later works…This is a true cycle of pieces – one of Bach’s first and certainly one of his best. The care with which Bach has planned their path, and the skill in creating a musical journey to a most fearful place is astonishing. The way to redemption and salvation after this journey is perhaps shown by the key sequence of the Suites: A – a – g – F – e – d. These six notes clearly describe the Chorale tune “Jesu, meine Freude”. I recorded the Suites in order. I certainly felt that it helped me make the musical path clearer. My trusty Katzman harpsichord was a glorious partner, its quill plectra wonderfully flexible and responsive in giving life and colour to this most imaginative music.” – Richard Egarr
Richard Egarr brings a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, enquiring mind to all his music-making. He is renowned for directing from the keyboard, conducting, playing concertos (on organ, harpsichord, fortepiano or modern piano), giving solo recitals — and indeed talking about music at every opportunity.
Described as “the Bernstein of Early Music” by USA National Public Radio, Richard was appointed Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music in 2006, succeeding Christopher Hogwood. He also regularly appears as guest director with a range of other leading period ensembles, and is increasingly sought-after by non-period chamber and symphony orchestras. In 2011 he was appointed Associate Artist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
In 2007 Richard established the Choir of the AAM, and operas and oratorios lie at the heart of his repertoire. He is also a lasting inspiration to young musicians, and besides his teaching position at the Amsterdam Conservatorium he has regular relationships with the Britten-Pears Foundation and the Dutch National Opera Academy.
Richard’s extensive recording output includes solo works by Gibbons, Couperin, Purcell, Mozart and J S Bach (Goldberg Variations, the Well-Tempered Clavier) and his lengthy collaboration with violinist Andrew Manze produced awardwinning recordings ranging from Biber to Schubert. With the AAM he has recorded J S Bach’s Harpsichord Concertos and Brandenburg Concertos, and their discs of Handel have won MIDEM, Edison and Gramophone Awards.
Richard trained as a choirboy at York Minster, Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and as an organ scholar at Clare College, Cambridge. His studies with Gustav and Marie Leonhardt further inspired his work in the field of historical performance.