The Chronicle

Just as the opera Pomona (above) is a good way to ease into that genre, this album is a good introduction to classical music itself, though for a different reason: it’s top quality. If you feel you want to buy a classical CD, this is an excellent first investment (after which, Peter Sheppard Skaerved’s Beethoven Explored Vol 6).

According to the sleeve notes, Bach invented (more or less) the solo concerto for keyboard and one of the pieces on here, Concerto in G minor, BMV 1058 , is thought to be the earliest of his solo pieces.

Maltese-born Micallef is accompanied by the European Union Chamber Orchestra but it’s her input that lifts this CD up from the good to the excellent.

Her playing is precise yet subtle, and she brings out the best in the music. Bach originally wrote these pieces to entertain, and be played by, his sons and himself; he was said to play them “with the greatest perfection” but Micallef must give him a run for his money. Like Skaerved’s Beethoven, this sounds fresh and modern and not in any way imposing. If you like Bach already: this must be one of the better recordings of his work, so neither neophytes nor the knowledgeable can go wrong.

—Jeremy Condliffe