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Johann Sebastian BACH (1865-1750)
Partita No. 1 in B-Flat Major, BWV 825
Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826
English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808
Rudolf Buchbinder (piano)
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, Germany, 2014
SONY CLASSICAL 88875053302 [56:57]

I have long admired the playing of Rudolf Buchbinder. His recordings of Haydn (2564637872) and Beethoven (886978751027), whilst not my overall favourites have always figured high. His interpretations have a lot to offer, especially in his less Romantic approach to tempi which in some cases can be quite exhilarating.

This is the first time I have heard Buchbinder play Bach and I must admit that my feelings are somewhat mixed. Things start well enough; he gives a spirited performance of the B flat Major Partita, slightly slower overall than Schiff's original Decca recording (4117322), but with good articulation. It is however, in the C minor Partita where the interpretation goes a bit wayward. Here he is quicker overall than Schiff, with the Rondeaux being less than half as long as Schiff's. It sounds just too quick which is odd as it very nearly corresponds with the recording by David Korevaar (MS 1461), a performance I really enjoy, yet Korevaar manages to make the movement sound unhurried. There is also a lack of definition in tempo in some movements, especially the Courant and Sarabande which sound too similar. This all leads to an uninspiring performance of the Partita, which is a shame as I really enjoyed his performance of the First.

The disc concludes with what for me is the highlight: a first rate interpretation of the English Suite No. 3. Here Buchbinder seems to be fully at home in the music -a truly wonderful performance. I must admit to being a bit of an authenticity bore when it comes to Bach's keyboard music. I much prefer it played on the instrument for which it was composed. However I have recently been listening to a lot of Baroque harpsichord music in transcriptions for piano. If more performances followed Buchbinder's spirited example I could well find myself leaning more towards the modern concert grand.

Stuart Sillitoe

Track Details
Partita No. 1 in B-Flat Major, BWV 825
I. Praeludium [1:47]
II. Allemande [3:28]
III. Corrente [2:49]
IV. Sarabande [5:36]
V. Menuet I & II [3:00]
VI. Gigue [2:15]
Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826
I. Sinfonia [4:19]
II. Allemande [4:22]
III. Courante [2:27]
IV. Sarabande [2:42]
V. Rondeaux [1:32]
VI. Capriccio [3:35]
English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808
I. Prelude [3:11]
II. Allemande [3:20]
III. Courante [1:59]
IV. Sarabande [3:41]
V. Gavotte I & II [3:56]
VI. Gigue [2:38]


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