Bach to the Future
Johann Sebastian BACH/Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639 [4:02]
Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme BWV 645 [3:39]
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 659 [5:06]
Jesu Christus, unser Heiland BWV 665 [7:37]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
French Suite No. 2 in C minor BWV 813 [17:00]
Johann Sebastian BACH/Alexander SILOTI (1863-1945)
Sonate for Flute and Harpsichord E flat Major BWV 1031-Siciliano [2:11]
Präludium E minor BWV 855a [2:47]
Sonate for Violin solo Nr. 5 a-moll BWV 1003-Andante [5:56]
Suite (Overture) for Orchestra Nr. 3 D Major BWV 1068-Air [5:38]
Johann Sebastian BACH/Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Partita No. 1 for Violin Solo BWV 1002-Bourrée [3:38]
Sonate for Violin solo Nr. 3 C Major BWV 1005-Largo [3:50]
Sabine Weyer (piano)
rec. 2017, Kulturzentrum Immanuel, Wuppertal
ARS PRODUKTION ARS38245 [61:38]
The concept of this disc is a good one, take a suite by Bach as a central piece and hang from it other composers’ transcriptions for piano of some of his other works; the notes talk of the concept as a “musical arc” and a “journey from the deepest shadows to pure light” are a bit arty for my tastes.
The CD opens with four pieces transcribed by Ferruccio Busoni, a lover
of Bach and a veteran transcriber of his music, the pinnacle being the
Piano Concerto in D minor after BWV 1052. Some of Busoni’s transcriptions
can be a little thick and heavy and this is the case here, just listen
to ‘Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’ for instance, with
the slightly reverberant piano sound only seeming to reinforce this.
On the other hand, ‘Wachet Auf’ is served very well both
by Busoni and Weyer.
I am a firm believer in listening to the keyboard music of Bach on the instrument it was intended for, so the French Suite for me should be performed on the harpsichord. This is the only performance I have of the work on a piano, and whilst a transcription of sorts, no arranger details are given, listening to it compared to the two historically informed versions I have, I think that it loses intensity and vibrancy when performed on the piano. I did seek out other piano versions of the suite and I must say that Weyer’s performance stands up well compared to these.
Whilst I have a fair number of transcriptions of Bach’s music, the name Alexander Siloti was new to me; he certainly begins in style with the Siciliano from the E flat Major Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord, although the Air ‘on a G string’, is quite ponderous and detracts from the underlying gaiety of the original, a very slow burning cigar indeed.
The disc ends on a high, with two pieces transcribed by that champion of Bach, Camille Saint-Saëns. The Bourrée from the Partita No. 1 is full of bravado whist the Largo from the Sonata No. 3 has a lightness that brings out the best from the music.
Sabine Weyer, who also wrote the booklet notes, plays the music well, although her sustaining of the notes in the Busoni adds to the reverberant recording, this is partly the composer’s fault as the recorded sound of the piano is lighter from the French Suite onwards.