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This review is from: English Suites, No. 1, 3 & 6 (Audio CD)
This and its companion disc, between them comprising all six of Bach's English Suites, are both brilliant. The music is fabulous and Murray Perahia's playing is quite wonderful. They have now been released as a single set: Bach: Complete English Suites.
These six suites are English in name only, conforming largely to the accepted form and order of a suite of dances, providing Bach with a template for his unrivalled contrapuntal skill in which he was utterly at home. The result is a set of pieces with wonderful rhythmic variation and delightful fluency of lines, and these are among Bach's finest keyboard works, in my view. They are inventive, endlessly rewarding and, above all, hugely enjoyable to listen to.
Murray Parahia understands all of this to his core, and has the superb technique to allow it to flow out of him utterly naturally. He often has a delightful lightness of touch which never trivialises but allows the music to dance and glow as it should, and he preserves the music's intellectual weight even in the most toe-tapping movements. Perahia's judgement of rubato and ornamentation is impeccable, with just enough to allow make the music's sense clear without overlaying it with unnecessary interpretive tricks. It is exemplary Bach playing, I think.
Unless you have a rooted objection to Bach on the piano (in which case I'd recommend Christophe Rousset's harpsichord recordings Bach: English Suites, BWV 806 - 811 /Rousset) you cannot possibly go wrong with these two discs. They are superb and very warmly recommended.
[At this level of excellence it is purely a matter of personal taste, but I thought I'd mention that I still marginally prefer Angela Hewitt's interpretations (now in a fantastic box of all her Bach recordings Angela Hewitt plays Bach (Complete Solo Keyboard Recordings).) This is a matter of tiny things, though, and I would be very happy with this set alone.]