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Pinnock plays Bach with skill and sensitivity

TREVOR PINNOCK

All-Bach harpsichord recital.

Jordan Hall, March 24.

By JONATHAN RICHMOND

TREVOR PINNOCK MARKS HIMSELF out not so much by his technical mastery of the harpsichord as by his ability to use his instrument to bring out the human side of the composers whose music he plays.

During several short talks in between works performed in his Jordan Hall recital, Pinnock spoke of the greatness of Bach, stressing the many facets of the composer's art. In Pinnock's music-making, the different levels upon which Bach's music operates were each illuminated: Yes, Pinnock showed us the great formal patterns which Bach weaves, but he played with such wit and feeling as to leave no doubt that there is far more in Bach than might be suggested by his reputation as the ultimate musical mathematician.

The all-Bach concert began with the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903. Pinnock's nimble playing and bright sound quickly grabbed the attention, but his ability to sensitively accent each and every nuance was what took us deep into the complex and intense elements of the work.

The English Suite in G minor came across with a wondrous sense of natural flow, yet no detail was overlooked. Before continuing -- with the Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 846 from The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1, No. 1 -- Pinnock talked of the technical devices used in Bach's compositions, but warned the audience that "you may miss the real substance of the music by seeing the devices. The devices are the property of the composer, not the audience."

He then played the prelude with a simplicity which exposed its spirituality, and the fugue with a fervor which took us onto a quite elevated, unworldly plane.

The second half of the program was equally joyous, the amazing virtuosity of the Allegro of the Concerto in the Italian Style, BWV 971 only eclipsed by the beauty of the ensuing Andante, which transcended the underlying technical prowess of Pinnock's playing.

Pinnock ended with an encore, Couperin's Les Baricades Mysterieuses. It was deftly played, and with magnetic personality.