Talented 23-year-old French harpsichordist Jean Rondeau’s debut recording follows his signing to Erato last year. That he has chosen to focus on arrangements of some of JS Bach’s best-known works for other solo instruments comes as no surprise. Rondeau is a keen chamber musician and jazz improviser, and one gets the impression he admires Bach’s legendary facility as arranger and extemporiser.

There are six works here: the Lute Suite No 3 arranged by Rondeau; the Violin Sonata No 3 arranged by WF Bach; Brahms’ arrangement, for piano left-hand of the D Minor Chaconne; the A Minor Flute Partita arranged by Stéphane Delplace; the Italian Concerto; and the Adagio from the Violin Sonata in C, arranged by WF Bach. 

JS Bach wrote the lute suites on a harpsichord-like instrument designed to imitate the sound of the lute, so they’re perfectly at home here. Rondeau’s playing is full and spacious in the slower movements, clean and energetic in the faster ones; in both cases there is a judicious application of rubato, detaché, style brisé and other forms of ornamentation. 

The works for solo violin and solo flute gain more from the harpsichord’s sonority than from any overt arranging. Even Brahms’ piano arrangement of the Chaconne for one hand sounds entirely authentic. An impressive solo debut by any standards.

Download this album on iTunes: Bach – Imagine – Jean Rondeau

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