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4 stars for Bach at Paxton

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The Scotsman awarded the “Bach Family at Home” recital at Music at Paxton 4 stars and said of William’s performance: “Berger beautifully evoked Bach’s enjoyment of life’s pleasure…” Read the full review below.


In the second of the Bach Family at Home concerts for the Music at Paxton summer festival, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani together with baritone William Berger and Ibrahim Aziz on viola da gamba gave a fascinating insight into the daily life of a musical household.

The pieces taken from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach JS Bach prepared for his wife, a consummate singer in her own right, reveal a lighter side to the music the family played to entertain themselves. Berger beautifully evoked Bach’s enjoyment of life’s pleasures in So oft Ich meine Tabakspfeife, a humorous meditation on smoking his pipe, and the aria and recitative from the cantata Ich Have Genug (I am content).

There was a dynamic rapport between the three musicians who clearly relished the twists and turns of Bach’s rather curious, and rare, foray into the Italian style in Amore Traditore which ends in a exhaustive duel in virtuosity between harpsichordist and singer. The range of emotions in Handel’s more polished, poignant and playful Italian-influenced Dalla Guerra Amorosa (From War, Love) made for an interesting contrast. Aziz’s spirited performance of Telemann’s Sonata in G for Dessus de Viole and Continuo was also a highlight.

 Susan Nickalls