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Bach: Piano Transcriptions 9 (A Bach Book For Harriet Cohen And Other British Transcriptions) CD
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Jonathan Plowright, piano
Jonathan Plowright's playing is of unfaltering poise and sustained eloquence,and his work for Hyperion means that he receives the ideal sound and presentation that eluded him earlier in his career. --Gramophone awards issue,2010
Jonathan Plowright plays everything with calm,unforced assurance,nicely balancing Bach style and 1930's period manners,and making light of all the left-hand skips needed to suggest Bach's organ pedal parts.An immaculate recording. Peformance ***** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine,Dec'10
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Alas, the vast majority of these transcriptions are uninteresting. Transcription is an art; it is not simply the rearrangement of notes from one performance medium to another. One need only compare this mostly uninspired lot to the transcriptions by Rummel, or those by others in this generally excellent series on Hyperion (including Feinberg, Saint-Saens, D'Albert, and, of course, the masterworks of this genre by Busoni) to appreciate the difference.
Ronald Stevenson is quoted in the program notes with a caustic and dismissive reference to one of these transcriptions. I thought (and hoped) he was exaggerating. Alas, he was right on target. (Stevenson himself is included on here with a transcription -- not written for Harriet Cohen, of course -- of Kom', susser Tod. It is more virtuosic than most of the others, and enjoyable to hear, but not itself an outstanding transcription either (unlike others he has penned).
IMHO, the best tracks on this disc are the two by British pianist Leonard Borwick, the two by Dame Myra Hess (including, of course, the famous Jesu, joy of man's desiring), and Eugene Goossens' transcription of the Andante from the Second Brandenburg Concerto.
All in all, four stars plus for performance and recording quality, two for repertory, for an average of three. Worth buying (cheap!) as a curiosity for either Bach or Plowright completists; others should pass it up and save their money for the other entries in this series.
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