BACH, Johann Sebastian   (1685-1750)

(...)   excerpt: works on modern piano
Clavier Concertos 1/7, BWV 1052-8: (i) Double Clavier Concertos 1-3, BWV 1060-62; (i-ii) Triple Clavier Concertos 1-2, BWV 1063-4; (iii) Triple Concerto for Flute, Violin & Harpsichord, BWV 1044. Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971
@ Decca 4782363 (4), Andras Schiff (piano), with (i) Peter Serkin (piano); (ii) Canino (piano); (iii) Nicolet (flute), Shiokawa (Violin), CO of Europe or Camerata Bern

As is instanced by the performance of the Italian Concerto, splendidly articulated and alive, and by his other Bach solo records, Schiff's control of colour and articulation never seeks to present merely a arpsichord imitation, and in the concertos his shaping of Bach's lovely slow movements brings finely sustained lines and a subtle variety of touch. In the composite concertos, joined by Bruno Canino, Aurèle Nicolet and Yuuko Shiokawa - equally fine artists - he and they are just as satisfying. He directs both the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (in the solo concertos) and the Camerata Bern from the keyboard and chooses spirited, uncontroversial tempi for Allegros, at the same time providing decoration that always adds to the joy and sparkle of the music-making. This makes a clear first choice for those who, like us, enjoy Bach on the piano, and the composite concertos are particularly successful, notably BWV 1044.
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Sony 696998924322. Perahia (piano)

We are agreed that Murray Perahia's set of the Goldberg Variations is uniquely revealing, essentially thoughtful and intimate, often introvert, and with his involvement and dedication present in every bar. The piano recording, too, is wonderfully natural. An obvious first choice. Even so, Rosalyn Tureck's VAI ccount is very special indeed, with insights all its own. For I.M. it is enormously compelling and would be a desert island choice (VAI VAIA 1029); but Perahia's account is hardly less inspired.
15 2-Part Inventions, BWV 772-86; 15 3-Part Inventions (Sinfonias), BWV 787-801; 6 Little Preludes, BWV 933-8; 6 Little Preludes, BWV 939-43 & 999; 6 Little Preludes from the Clavierbüchlein for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, BWV 924-31; 3 Fughettas, BWV 952, 953 & 961; Prelude and Fugue, BWV 895; Preludes and Fughettas, BWV 899, 900, & 902a; French Suite 6, BWV 817; Partita 2, BWV 826
Dynamic CDS 629/1-2 (2). Andrea Bacchetti (piano)

Bach's Klaviermusic (including the 2-Part Inventions and the rather more complex 3-Part Sinfonias) was mainly written in Köthen from 1717 to 1723 for Bach's eldest son, Wilhelm Friedmann, and the Sixth French Suite and Second Partita also seem to come from the end of this period. So for Andrea Bacchetti to include them in his survey seems very appropriate, and they are wholly welcome musically. The monothematic Inventions are simply structured and usually brief, but their very simplicity adds to their immediacy of appeal, with changes of style from dance to fugue, from expressive writing to canon. Bacchetti, who has already given us a first-rate DVD of the Goldberg Variations (Arthaus 101447), plays them with spontaneous freshness and plenty of expressive life, and these two discs make very appealing listening.
Partitas 1-6, BWV 825-30
Sony BMG 88697443612 (1, 5 & 6); 88697226952 (2, 3 & 4). Perahia (piano)

Bach's six Partitas appeared one at a time at approximately yearly intervals between 1725 and 1730. He obviously valued them highly for they were the first works he published at his own expense. With the character of French dance movements underlying the writing, they show true mastery of the style français and are as diverting to isten to as they are demanding to play. Murray Peahia is again in his element here. Bach keyboard playing does not come any finer than this. A set of true distinction, most truthfully recorded.

CHERUBINI, Luigi   (1760-1842)

6 Keyboard Sonatas (1783)
RCA 88697057742. Andrea Bacchetti (piano)

This set of six Cherubini Sonatas was published in 1783 but was probably written earlier (perhaps 1780). They are most engaging two-movement works with a strong flavour of Mozart, but with galant touches to add charm. Their invention is appealingly diverse, and in these captivating performances one is drawn to return to them often. They are beautifully recorded. The Italian pianist, Andrea Bacchetti, is a relatively new name to us. He is an enterprising artist, willing to explore the keyboard repertoire, and his playing is always distinctive, cultivated and full of life.