Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars A "tawny port" of a recital, 25 Mar 2012
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This review is from: J.S. Bach The English Suites (Audio CD)
Pigeon-holing is a convenient mechanism but frequently an inadequate one. Attending a concert recently by Arcadi Volodos I expected him to power his way through a Brahms concerto ....only to be totally confounded when he played it with considerable delicacy and finesse.

Somehow I had mentally associated Feltsman with the "powerhouse lobby" too - partly perhaps because of another recent Nimbus release where he plays Rach 3. Yet here is delicate, luminous pianism, matured like a fine wine and positively glowing from the speakers.

Having had Schiff's recordings for some years I was persuaded to acquire the one by Robert Levin (Hanssler Classics) - also playing incidentally on a modern piano. The comparison is interesting. Levin is almost uniformly faster, with crisper attack and minimal decay on notes. Feltsman by contrast seems to stroke the keys.

Sometimes the comparisons are not immediately obvious - in the first suite for example the actual timings are not vastly different, yet the feel is distinctly dissimilar. Levin is forthright, clear headed whilst Feltsman is more...suggestive, more...well, confiding. Allemandes are slower in Feltsman's hands but lines sing in a most agreeable way, whilst in a movement like the passpied in the 5th suite he does not neglect the essential in Bach - ie that the music dances delightfully. Meanwhile the prelude to the 6th Suite does not neglect grandeur; this, as Feltsman suggests in his notes, is arguably the finest of the group.

Perhaps in comparison the French Suites and the Partitas are generally regarded as finer, yet for much of these discs that assertion seems far from the truth.

This will not be the only survey for your collection but if it's an impulse buy you won't be disappointed. Did I say "fine wine"? No, maybe a "tawny port".
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