Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feltsman again excels, 1 Dec 2012
This review is from: J.S. Bach Six Partitas BWV 825-830 (Audio CD)
The last to be written, these six suites for harpsichord were the first to be published in Bach's lifetime. Their French influence is evident from the titles prefixed to the movements and they must above all be redolent of a stately and elegant dance without sounding stiff or static.

Despite his facility in composers as wide-ranging as Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, all available on Nimbus, Feltsman has primarily been a Bach specialist over his entire career. This 2 CD set is a re-issue under licence of discs originally on the Urtext Records label with the Two-part Inventions as a filler and then made available again on Camerata in 2007.

Feltsman's pacing overall is brisk, the total time of the Partitas being about 120 minutes. There is no sense of undue haste although just occasionally I felt that he rushes fences in his trills. He habitually maintains a steady pulse in the fast movements but uses plenty of rubato in the slow ones. Certainly there is no lingering neither is there any sense of hurry, either - just steady, sensitive phrasing whereby the Sarabandes are primarily lyrical in the mode of a baroque aria with sonorous, singing tone (with lots of pedal), soulful pauses and poignantly drawn out ornaments to convey a deep melancholy. It is those slow movements I enjoy most in his playing here.

The Preludes are grand and stately; the opening to No.2 is decidedly tragic without undue emotionalism. He displays astonishing facility in the Ouverture to the D major, never pounding but always maintaining a direct, forceful thrust in his playing. We do not hear the steady, stoical concentration of Gould or the gentler lyricism of Perahia but rather something more of the juste milieu between the two, sustaining a free, improvisatory mood. His interpretations are all of a piece in that they retain integrity by constantly reflecting and replicating throughout the characteristics I briefly adumbrate above; I find him more lively and brilliant than the rather stately and under-stated Angela Hewitt, or the delicate, urbane Richard Goode. So many great pianists have put their mark on these masterpieces and as usual the music proves itself the ultimate in plastic adaptability, accommodating each musician's personal style in a manner that enables the listener to appreciate afresh its intrinsic beauty.

This is why I could not begin to express an overall preference for Feltsman over any other of the many interpretations available but I can say that anyone buying his version is unlikely to be disappointed and also assert that Nimbus has once more give Feltsman beautiful, superbly balanced recorded sound, rich in sonority and finer than any of the others I sampled.

Ultimately the essential rightness, improvisatory freedom and rhythmic vitality of Feltsman's account win me over.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Oct 2013 21:43:09 BDT
Thanks, Ralph, one of your nicest reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Oct 2013 22:03:46 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
Thanks, Mark; I need to revisit this disc.
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Location: Bishop's Stortford, UK

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