BACH: Partita No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 826; Partita No. 3 in A Minor, BWV 827; Partita No. 4 in D Major, BWV 828 – Murray Perahia, piano – Sony Classical

by | Nov 16, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

BACH: Partita No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 826; Partita No. 3 in A Minor, BWV 827; Partita No. 4 in D Major, BWV 828 – Murray Perahia, piano – Sony Classical 88697-22697-2, 71:49 ****:


In his first studio recording (1-7 June 2007; 13-17 Novemenber 2007) after three years, Murray Perahia turns to the music of J.S. Bach, a fusion of intellectual and mathematical graces that reveal Perahia’s facility has in no way diminished. I recall having read Josef Hofmann’s assessment of a recording by Emil Gilels, admonishing that Gilels needed to work on his upward scales: no such caveat attaches to Perahia’s realizations of these three Bach partitas, in which the C Minor, particularly, revels in poised “rocket” and scale passages, buoyant and lyrical energies. The Courante of the A Minor Suite accomplishes the same mix of diverse metric and expressive impulses, free-flowing, upward scales, wicked trills, and jerky, leaping octaves. The Courante of the D Major performs the same brise (broken-style) feats and adds a touch of the G Major French Suite. Nothing timid in Perahia’s tempos, either, which often hurtle forward in the manner of Glenn Gould, but without the aesthetic that a piano desperately wants to become a harpsichord. Witness the piquancy of the Aria (in the Italian style) from the D Major Partita for a resonant, modern keyboard sound that does not become overbearing.


The evenness of tone, color, and dynamic pressure in Perahia’s palette waxes nothing less than a miracle of secure, technical fluency: audition the two opening movements of the A Minor Partita: the strict counterpoint of the Fantasia juxtaposed against the stately, broken phraseology of the Allemande, each of which testifies to Perahia’s intelligent and digital security in all parts, the revelation of passionate humanity beneath the logic of the numbers. The 9/8 Allegro from the Overture that ensues after the D Major Partita dotted, French figures, has Perahia flexing his musical muscles in a most delightful and audacious manner. No less exalted are Bach’s sinuous sarabandes, especially that from the C Minor Partita. The D Major Allemande, the longest single movement from the entire sequence, flows in the face of deliberate, repetitive figures, Perahia’s pearly play as much in evidence as his ability to sustain a flexible, hypnotic, musical line. If any album certifies Perahia’s status as a Bach interpreter on a par with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Edwin Fischer, this disc provides undeniable testimonies. Piano sound as engineered by Christian Starke provides a warmly etched patina that never rings harsh.

–Gary Lemco

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