BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE n. 209 SETTEMBRE 2009        PAG.57    |    PAG.58    |    PAG.59        (STAMPABILE)  






Genius in Bach's smallest invention

The brilliant Italian pianist Andrea Bacchetti proves that

not even the slightest of Bach's keyboard works should

be overlooked, as MICHAEL TANNER discovers









English Suites

Decca 476 3127

Available as download

A programme which

neatly complements

this month's superb

Bach release



Goldberg Variations

Arthaus 101 447 DVD

(NTSC) plus CD

"The overall impact

is so majestic and

profound that it

would be churlish

to deny it greatness"

March 2008



Piano Sonata

RCA Red Seal


"Bacchetti spins an

eloquent singing

line in Galuppi's

operatically inspired

slow movements, and gleefully relishes the finales' caprice and roguish wit" May 2009



Piano Concerto No.1

Serenade & Allegro

giocoso etc

Prague CO

Arts 475952

Bacchetti - as soloist and conductor - presents a more rounded than usual account of Mendelssohn's music.



Two-Part Inventions, BWV 772-786; Sinfonias, BWV 787-801;

French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817; Partita No.2 in C, BWV 826; Sechs Kleine Präludien; Kleine Präludien aus dem Clavierbüchen vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach; Kleine Fugen und Präludien mit Fughetten

Andrea Bacchetti (piano)

Dynamic CDS 629/1-2

150:32 mlns (2 discs)



terms while avoiding the instrument's potentially Romantic character.

The result is austere, and gives a sense of the music's peculiar self-containment: if this music could play itself, this is what it would sound like. Why then choose the piano at all? Bacchetti is interested in variations of dynamic, though not of an extravagant kind. And he wants the piano's type of percussiveness, though again within strict limits.

The medium and the message seem to me to be in perfect accord.There isn't a dull moment in this album's two-and-a-half hours; even the simplest pieces - though all Bach's simplicities are deceptive - turn out to be gems under Bacchetti's passionate fingers.

For anyone who, like me, knows the Little Preludes and Fugues only as pieces to play, or attempt, with exasperation at their difficulties, their magnificence will be a revelation.

These very small pieces tend not to be performed, and therefore not listened to, but none of them is dispensable. It goes without saying that the Two-Part


Andrea Bacchetti is a 31-year-old Italian pianist, who has been performing since the age of 11 and has won various competitions. Although his repertoire ranges from Bach to Berio, a composer with whom he worked extensively, he is most widely known on the continent for his Bach performances. Yet so far he hasn't appeared in the UK. As this pair of discs shows, that is our loss. There are some very fine Bach keyboard players around, but I find his highly individual style uniquely enjoyable and uplifting.



For anyone who, like me, knows the Little Preludes and Fugues only as pieces to play, or attempt, with exasperation, their magnificence will be a revelation



Bacchetti's way of playing is hard to characterise, and impossible to in a single word. He is supremely concerned to articulate every voice, but that doesn't mean that his playing is didactic, as one sometimes feels that András Schiff's is. Schiff plays in a mellower style, bur there is still the feeling that underneath the performance is a covert lecture. My overall preference among recent pianists has been for Murray Perahia, who I suppose is bound to be called Romantic by some. That has to do, of course, with the potentialities of expression that the piano has, and that the harpsichord, let alone the clavichord, doesn't.

Bacchetti, on the other hand, strikes a fine balance, making the piano work on his own (or, one might say, Bach's)


Inventions and the Sinfonias (otherwise Three-Part Inventions) are masterpieces, even if each piece lasts only last for two minutes. Bacchetti, like all great Bach players, endows every note with Iife, to the point of fanaticism. What is interesting is that in this context the two works that one is most likely to know, the Sixth French Suite and the Second Partita, don't, as I expected, stand out from the rest, but show that Bach was almost incapable of writing an uninspired piece. The recording is slightly rattly, and catches Bacchetti's odd gasp or groan - nothing Gouldian - bur doesn't undermine the exalted level of the performance.

PERFORMANCE                      *****

RECORDING                              ****



DANIEL JAFFÉ talks with the pianist about performing Bach's Inventions



For your album did you choose a particular set of Bach's works first, around which you selected a complementary programme?

I chose Bach because I greatly love his music - I had already recorded the English Suites and the Goldberg Variations. For this album I first recorded the Two- and Three-part Inventions because Dynamic wanted a CD of rare repertoire. We then decided to Include the preludes and fugues to provide the listener with a more complete impression of the 'pedagogic Bach' and so make the record more appealing.

The Sixth Suite and the Second Partlta were included to make the CD more complete.


The Inventions are often thought of as 'exercises' for student pIanists. Did you consciously choose to interpret these works any differently because of this?

They may appear to be 'exercises' but they're not the equivalent of Clementi's didactic Gradus ad Parnassum!


They include some of Bach's best counterpoint and also they allow the student to develop as an expressive interpreter.I have tried to read both the Inventions and the Preludes and fugues not as a series of separate pieces but as a mosaic whose parts are linked by an invisible thread: this involves bringing out the character of the pieces, and I have made use of the piano's colours.

That, l suppose, is the 'difference' to my approach; in performances today, unfortunately, technique too often overshadows feeling.


In your performances you add some ornamentation to the Inventions. How did you decide where in the music to do this?

I believe that today it is necessary to add ornamentation to Baroque repertoire. Since 1950s the use of embellishments have undergone an extraordinary evolution. Personally I try to improvise them without disturbing the melodic line, especially when a work features the same part over again.



Star ratings are provi-ded for both the per-formance itself and either the recording's sound quality or a DVD's presentation.