Gould was not in the habit of re-recording but a growing unease with that earlier performance made him turn once again to a timeless masterpiece and try, via a radically altered outlook, for a more definitive account. In 1950 the piece was assigned the number 1076 in Schmieder's catalogue of Bach's works. The massive Bachakademie edition (of which this is Volume 115) is not a project noticeably concerned with period instruments, yet here they have persuaded Trevor Pinnock, founder of one of the world’s first and finest baroque orchestras, the English Concert, to return to the recording studio as a solo harpsichordist for the first time in many years. His account of Kempff’s transcription of the chorale prelude Nun freut euch is less anchored by the chorale tune itself and more flighty in effect than Kempff’s own performances (Eloquence). But then, this is also the most wonderful cello-playing, surely among the most consistently beautiful to have been heard in this demanding music, as well as the most musically alert and vivid. From the opening bars of the First Partita’s leisurely Praeludium, it is clear that this is a master harpsichordist, a player whose seemingly effortless command of his instrument allows him to express his innate musicianship without any need for overstatement or gratuitous point-making. But such quibbles are inconsequential in face of this pianist’s heartfelt musicality, enhanced by attractively full-bodied sound and a beautifully regulated Shigeru Kawai SK EX concert grand at her disposal. Each contains music of great humanity and beauty‚ and each‚ too‚ contains an aria of aching breadth and nobility – the justly celebrated ‘Schlummert ein’ in the case of Ich habe genug‚ and in Mein Herze the humble but assured supplication of ‘Tief gebückt’. A famous response to Gieseking’s playing as being “like Monet in Giverny” was made with reference to his legendary Debussy performances. He invests the Goldbergs with the sort of humbling gravitas that Schnabel brings to, say, Schubert’s B flat Sonata. There is a lively bounce in her D minor Courante and E major Gigue, and she is splendidly neat in the double of the B minor Courante and in the C major’s finale. Lionel Salter (March 1989). Not only do the individual movements feel spot-on in articulation and affekt but the free-flowing pacing from one section to the next makes it easy for the listener to be pulled along. Designed for harpsichord, but equally enthusiastically claimed by pianists, it consists of a lyrical theme with 30 variations, lasting about an hour. Johann Sebastian Bach: Chorales: Wenn ich in Angst und Noth, BWV 427 . The variety of string articulation together with Gibley’s discrete harmonisations further serve both to enliven and to elucidate Bach’s musical arguments. Explore the best Bach works featuring 10 masterpieces including the Brandenburg Concertos, St Matthew Passion, and The Well-Tempered Clavier. Singet dem Herrn is typically exuberant in its outer ‘concerti’ but the unique double-choir juxtaposition of chorale and free contrapuntal ‘rhapsody’ could perhaps have yielded more genuine contemplative warmth. Maybe the finale of Sonata No 2 seems rather frantic and the wonderful Adagio ma non tanto of No 3 a touch lumpy, but there really is not much else to criticise. On ‘softLOUD’ (A/18), he invites us to an electroacoustic house party for strange bedfellows Anon, James MacMillan, Steve Reich, Julia Wolfe and David Lang. It is as if all the work that Watkin has ever done on these pieces has been absorbed absolutely and then reproduced in a performance that is able to be completely original in its voice at the same time as never producing a phrase that jars in its unsubtlety, or presents an ego that overarches the music. Compared to this, Peter Hill seems a touch staid, Ekaterina Derzhavina somewhat terse, though Pires’s utterly forlorn interpretation is compelling in an entirely different way. Her desolate, almost whispered ‘Die Trauernacht’ in ‘Es ist vollbracht!’ also stabs to the heart. If Brüggen’s first reading with its purity of abstraction comes close in its controversially instrument-heavy recording and, more recently, Jonathan Cohen’s elegant and generous account asks further questions – albeit in the difficult acoustic of Tetbury Church – we have a further vision here with Gardiner’s extraordinary, single-minded, quasi-mathematical proof. The Fugue from the above-mentioned D minor is a case in point: the glistening parallel motion over the pedal at 3'20", often a bloated gesture, enticingly holds back to set up the rich-textured gravitas that follows. This whispered intimacy extends into his insertion of an ornamented version of this movement, entitled ‘Les agréments de la même Sarabande’, which proves a masterclass in audacious ornamentation, yet never overburdening Bach’s melodic lines. Certainly, the Mass in B minor. As Brook Street Band founder and cellist Tatty Theo says in her booklet-notes, the band’s reason for recording yet another arrangement of Bach’s six trio sonatas for organ has been for “the sheer pleasure of playing this wonderful music, and the wish to share it”. In the booklet interview Perahia reveals that his first encounter with Bach in concert was as a teenager when he heard Pablo Casals conducting the St Matthew Passion at Carnegie Hall. In contrast, the lower strings convey sublime melancholy in the Adagio ma non tanto of Concerto No 6. All in all, this counts as yet another exceptional Bach-Perahia release. Complex music – but not complicated. Johann Sebastian Bach on Kunst der Fuge site: List of pages: Harpsichord. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (March 2010), Sols; Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (December 2015). This meant they had to be performable without much rehearsal; so either the congregation endured some pretty ropey playing, or Bach’s musicians were out of the ordinary, as they’re far from easy. Lindsay Kemp (November 2005), European Brandenburg Ensemble / Trevor Pinnock. We have had several decent ‘chamber’ St Johns in recent years – including recordings from the Ricercar Consort (7/11), Cantus Cölln and Portland Baroque (both 3/12) – but this new one from John Butt and the Dunedin Consort really struck home for me by achieving its vital results without extravagant overstatement, overt ‘holiness’ or self-conscious marking-out of the work’s architecture. History has not judged kindly the revisiting of major Bach choral works by eminent conductors. Or that of the Second Suite, which again sounds completely inevitable, even when he spices it, on its repeats, with dazzlingly daring ornamentation that underlines the inherent dissonances within Bach’s counterpoint. 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