Edinburgh International Festival music review: Richard Egarr, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kelly Apter.
Few instruments evoke a sense of history like the harpsichord. Closing your eyes while Richard Egarr plays, you feel the centuries peel away, taking us back to the early 1700s.
As you might expect from a musician who has arrived at the Festival to play Bach at one performance and conduct Gilbert & Sullivan at the next, Egarr has a playful side. Evident not only in his treatment of the lighter sections of Bach’s French and English Suites played here, but in the way he applauds the beautiful red and gold harpsichord he steps away from at the end. He also has a steady calmness, however, which gives no indication of the lightning pace he’s playing at.
Despite their name, the Suites have limited links to their titular countries – and indeed were not called this by Bach himself. What they do have, is a richness and diversity of spirit. In particular, the French Suite No 5 takes us from stirring emotional depth to pure joy. It also ends with one of the most fiendishly tricky movements in all the Suites, with both of Egarr’s quick-fire hands earning their supper several times over.
Published in The Scotsman on 19 August 2015
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