A master pianist is at work, here.
For many years, Perahia was known for his wonderful Mozart recordings on CBS/Sony. His many recordings are among the finest in the catalogue. His Beethoven, too. But he's such a fantastic musician, anything he records has magic in spades. This Bach recording in a new partnership with DG will be placed among the very best.
Bach's Six French Suites are gems of the repertoire (originally for harpsichord or clavichord). They are made up of dance movements that make each suite a very satisfying whole.
Technically, these Suites do not mount a massive challenge to someone like Perahia, with his consummate technique. But like all Bach, they present significant musical challenges. Here is where the Mannes School's finest graduate (with Fredericia Von Stade) is a step above many others. His musicality assures not one note is out of place, either by emphasis or implication. Each line unfolds naturally with the most beautiful cadences. His use of ornamentation is exquisite, too. My wife was listening casually while I was reviewing the CD and mentioned how elegant the playing was. This was the same listener who lambasted a new Bach harpsichord CD I reviewed recently: 'sounds like a schoolboy playing!'. She's right about both DG recordings.
I took a fair bit of flack for daring to put a few criticisms in the harpsichord review. And with harpsichord and piano, it's apples and oranges. But Bach's musical line, either in the Goldberg Variations or these French Suites, remains the same, or, at least the essence of them remains. And that's where I think the experienced listener will love Perahia's way with the Suites.
The recording is plain fantastic. Perahia is centre stage, with a lovely ambiance around him. The piano resonates beautifully but no musical line is blurred.
This is splendid music played magnificently. The recording is first class and the timing over the two CDs generous. Buy with confidence. Very highly recommended.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
French Suites, BWV 812-817
Int. Release 07 Oct. 2016
2 CDs [91:06]