Thursday 13 February 2014


Ciaccona - Resonus Classics RES10126
Ciaccona: Guillermo Brachetta: Resonus Classics RES10126
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Feb 13 2014
Star rating: 3.5

A survey of the development of the Chaconne form in the 17th century from its dance origins

This fascinating new disc from Guillermo Brachetta looks at the way the chaconne developed in 17th century Europe, taking it from a simple dance form to a highly developed musical structure. Using two contrasting harpsichords Brachetta plays music by Storace, Duphly, Champion de Chambonieres, Blow, Bohm, De Bury, Bach, Fux and Louis Couperin.

The Argentinian harpsichord player Guillermo Brachetta based in the Netherlands where he studied with Jacques Ogg and Menno van Delft. He founded the trio Fantasticus as well as the Collegium Wilhelm Friedmann Bach.

One of the first keyboard chaconne's was by Frescobaldi, and Bernardo Storace was one of his successor. Storace's Ciaccona is a lively set of variations over a four-bar ground bass. Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer was the kapellmeister to the Margrave of Baden Baden. Fischer was regarded as one of the finest keyboard composers of his time. His Chaconne comes from Euterpe one of his keyboard suites named after the muses; it is a rather stately piece compared to the Storace.

Guilermo Brachetta
Guilermo Brachetta
Born in Rouen, Jacques Duphly worked both there and in Paris, becoming a sought after teacher of the harpsichord. His published keyboard works are much influenced by Rameau and his Chaconne comes from his Troisieme Livre published in 1756. Bracchetta gives a full toned performance, filling the rather galant piece with rich textures. The Chaconne by Jacques Champion de Chambonnieres comes from the Bauyn Manuscript, a collection of 17th century keyboard music. This is another stately piece, again richly textured with full chords

John Blow was organist at Westminster Abbey both before and after Purcell, but he also composed harpsichord pieces including this Chaconne which displays Blows fine melodic facility. The piece is full of varied textures and there are opportunities for Bracchetta to display some fast fingerwork.

Georg Bohm was born in Thuringia and spent his working life in Luneburg. JS Bach seems to have admired him. The Chaconne is probably by Bohm given that it comes from a manuscript containing other keyboard music by him. It is clearly a dance, albeit a rather stately one with the odd lively moment.

Bernard de Bury had Versailles in his blood, his father was a musician at the Royal court and de Bury composed operas and ballets for Versailles as well as writing harpsichord music. His Chaconne comes from a 1756 publication where it is the final movement of the fourth suite. Here we have French elegance with a lovely ornamented melody line.

Bach's D minor Partita BWV 1004 for solo violin is famous for its stupendous chaconne. Here Brachetta plays it in a transcription which is based on those of Lars Ulrik Mortensen and Gustav Leonhardt. The result is impressive, though I have to confess that I still prefer Busoni's piano transcription. Brachetta gives a finely architectonic account of the piece, at a tempo steady enough to allow Bach's thought processes to unfold along with some nicely rich detailing in the harpsichord arrangement.

Austrian composer Joseph Fux rose from humble circumstances to become Hofkapellmeister in Vienna in 1716. He wrote the influential composition treatise Gradus ad parnassum in 1725. His highly ornamented Ciaccona is a substantial piece, with a nicely flowing feel which develops into quite a substantial and complex piece well removed from the initial dance form but still with the influence of the steady ground bass.

The Bauyn manuscript also contains the Chaconne Louis Couperin, who was a friend and colleague of Chambonnieres and the first in an important dynasty of French organists and composers. His Chaconne is a slow almost contemplative piece, well removed from the dance and having a steady melodiousness about it.

Copy after H. Ruckers (1624), grand ravalement (1680), built by Titus Crijnen (2000)
Copy after H. Ruckers (1624), grand ravalement (1680), built by Titus Crijnen (2000)
Brachetta plays the Storace, Fischer and Bach on a Copy after G.B. Giusti (1681) built by Titus Crijnen in 2009, with the remaining items on a copy after H. Ruckers (1624), grand ravalement (1680), also built by Titus Crijnen (2000). Whilst the Ruckers is certainly a richly resonant instrument with a lovely mellow tone, I have to confess to not liking the Giusti so much, finding there is a little to much after-clang with the notes.

The booklet notes include an extensive article on the history of the chaconne form as well as background to each of the composers.

This is a lovely disc, which explores some of the highways and byways of the chaconne in Western classical music. For me some of the highlights were the pieces by the lesser known composers, all in Brachetta's lively and well thought-out performances.

Bernardo Storace (17th century) - Ciaccona (1664) [6.36]
Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer (1656 - 1746) - Chaconne [4.47]
Jacques Duphly (1715 - 1789) - Chaconne (1756) [8.01]
Jacques Champions de Chambonniere (1601/2 - 1672) - Chaconne [3.13]
John Blow (1648/9 - 1708) - Chaconne [3.27]
Georg Bohm (1661 - 1733) - Chaconne [3.52]
Bernard de Bury (1720 - 1785) - Chaconne (1736) [7.52]
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) - Chaconne [12.23]
Johann Joseph Fux (1660 - 1741) - Ciaccona [9.10]
Louis Couperin (c1626 - 1661) - Chaconne ou Passacaile [5.00]
Guillermo Brachetta (harpsichord)
Recorded Zuidervermaning, Westzaan, The Netherlands on 20-22 August 2013

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