Seven Toccatas - BWV910-16
Andrea Bacchetti pf
Dynamic [ F ] CDS658 (80' • DDD)
Andrea Bacchetti's sensitive
performances enter a competitive field

In his recent Goldberg Variations, DVD (Arthaus), Andrea Bacchetti discussed his pianistic Bach style as playing
"slowly, in a controlled manner". This applies to the Toccatas as well. When Bach indicates no tempo. Bacchetti tends to unfold the music at a leisurely pace, sustaining attention through his carefully organised dynamic designs and keen harmonic awareness. To cite a few instances, sample the D minor's second-movement fugue's build-up and the subsequent Adagio's chromatic accentuation, or notice how Bacchetti's stone-cold-sober deliberation over the C minor's Allegro and the D major's concluding fugue contrasts to lighter, more playful accounts from Glenn Gould (Sony, 9/94) and Angela Hewitt (Hyperion, 10/02). Bacchetti accurately addresses the F sharp minor third movement's Presto e staccato directive, yet so do the aforementioned competitors by way of crisper, better-contrasted and more characterful articulation, On the other hand, Bacchetti's pearly legato touch and contoured delineation in the G minor's much-slower-than-allegro. Allegro convincingly defend the pianist's unorthodox pace. For a piano version of all seven Toccatas on a single disc, Hewitt remains first choice, although the present disc offers separate tracks within each toccata, as opposed to Hyperion's stingier one-track-per-toccata policy. The recorded sound is robust and full-bodied but takes on a unattractive stridency in louder moments.
Jed Distler