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Stephen Churley (England)
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J.S.: 48 Preludes & Fugu Bach [DVD AUDIO]
J.S.: 48 Preludes & Fugu Bach [DVD AUDIO]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £16.83

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richter on fire in Innsbruck 1973. Absolutely superb., 4 Jun. 2016
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Firstly a niggle. What possessed Parnassus to issue this in DVD Audio format? Saving money, I guess. But this is very awkward if like me you have a low-end DVD player and a high-end CD player. I would have been happy to pay more for a 4-CD box set. I tried converting the disc to CD myself without success. I even asked Parnassus to do it; they said it could not be done (!). Eventually I found someone to convert it for just £10 onto 4-CDs. Please ask if you would like more information. Now the good part.

No superlative can really do justice to Richter's performance here. This rare live performance of the entire 48 was available for just 10 weeks in Japan but withdrawn as soon as the contract with Russia was found to be fraudulent. Parnassus have done a wonderful job in making it generally available. First, the sound quality is very natural, much better than the rather wooly studio recording Richter made of the 48 at around the same time. Second, the playing is out of this world. It is hard to believe the two performances are by the same pianist. Here Richter is on fire, taking risks, employing wide dynamics, taking the fast P+Fs very fast and the slow ones faster than before but always maintaining clarity of line and voicing. It is the greatest Bach playing from Richter I have ever heard. It is a deeply communicative and spiritual reading packed with new insights no other pianist has realised. His studio performance used to be on my short list but now it sounds like he was on autopilot. The playing is also more insightful and exciting than his live performance in Moscow of the First Book (issued on Melodya) and does not suffer from the finger slips of that version. My short list for the 48 on the piano is now very simple, in this order: this performance, Edwin Fischer, Samuil Feinberg, Evgeni Koroliov. Don't hesitate, buy it and be amazed.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2017 12:54 PM BST


Albero: Six Recercatas, Fugas And Sonatas
Albero: Six Recercatas, Fugas And Sonatas
Price: £12.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, bizarre yet flawed experiments in composition, 19 May 2016
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Very bizarre compositions. A short quasi-improvised Prelude is followed by a long, dogged Fugue (one is nearly 13 minutes!) and then by a sonata in the style of Scarlatti or Soler. As tri-part works they do not add up to the sum of their parts. The Fugues are too long to balance the short Preludes and the Sonatas (though good music) sound out of place after what has gone before. I felt Casal could have added greater improvisatory freedom to the Preludes. Some of the Fugues are too long and outstay their welcome but they do have interesting moments. Imagine Reger or Hindemith transported back to the 18th century in the Fugues. All the same, I'm grateful to Brilliant for this release as here are some of the oddest works in the entire harpsichord repertoire. I'd give it 4 stars if Casal's playing was more brilliant.


D'Anglebert: Complete Harpsichord Music
D'Anglebert: Complete Harpsichord Music
Price: £13.19

5.0 out of 5 stars The best 'complete' D'Anglebert on the market, 4 May 2016
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I have found Stephen Midgley's reviews very perceptive but on this one I part company with him. I have the sets by Scott Ross, Christophe Rousset, and individual discs by Paola Erdas and Arthur Haas. I have never been completely satisfied with Ross or Rousset who skate over the music and miss much of its noblesse and subtle melancholy. I think Francesco Cera does achieve what these other musicians fail to do. As soon as I played the set through, I played it all over again. I've loved French harpsichord music since I was 10, and D'Anglebert is probably the most difficult of them all to appreciate. He rarely writes catchy tunes and his ornamentation can sound excessive in the wrong hands, particularly if the music is played too fast. The integration of the ornaments into the ebb and flow of each piece is crucial to coaxing out the subtle rhetoric in this exceptionally refined music. I have already given a 5 star review to Arthur Hass's disc which strikes me as just about ideal. Now Cera has given us, to my mind, the best 'complete' set on the market at a bargain price, and the beautifully rich and fruity harpsichord only adds to the pleasure.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2016 6:36 PM BST


Schumann, Debussy, Bartók
Schumann, Debussy, Bartók
Price: £7.79

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Bartok, 3 May 2016
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Whilst I agree with the high praise given to the Schumann and Debussy, I find the Bartok an enormous disappointment, and since it is the longest and most significant work on the disc, the CD as a whole is a let down. Argerich has recorded this work twice, with Freire and with Kovacevich, and both are fine readings. Barenboim is not a pianist I associate with Bartok, and I suspect that is where the main problem lies. I have never particularly liked Barenboim's pianism. He is apt to focus too much on minor details at the expense of the whole. This is what we get here. It seems that each pianist is vying with the other to point up this or that little detail, meanwhile the propulsive energy of the piece gets overwhelmed. It is fussy, irritating playing. The best performance I know of this 20th century masterpiece is by Zoltan Kocsis and Deszo Ranki. They maintain a tight control on the momentum while they are at one in the subtle rubato they employ. It's a difficult balance but there it all works naturally. Perhaps only Hungarians really know how to play this music.


Schubert: Fantasy in C major / Rondo in B minor / Sonata in A major
Schubert: Fantasy in C major / Rondo in B minor / Sonata in A major
Price: £13.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best works Schubert wrote for the violin in the best modern performances, 8 Jan. 2016
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I agree with the 5 star reviews on Amazon.com. This is the best interpretation of Schubert's great (and difficult) Fantasy since Adolf Busch and Rudolf Serkin. I bought it primarily because I admire Lonquich's interpretations of Schubert. But Carolin Widmann is also superb - as her disc of Schumann Violin Sonatas proved. Basically you have here the three best works Schubert wrote for violin and piano in the best modern performance. In the Fantasy I think they are to be preferred to Kremer/Afanassiev, Menuhin/Britten and Rostal/Horsley even though they are all good in their different ways.


Nardini: Complete String Quartets
Nardini: Complete String Quartets
Price: £9.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Light undemanding quartets similar to Mozart's early divertimentos, 21 Aug. 2015
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These are enjoyable, well-crafted if undemanding quartets mainly in two movements which are reminiscent of Mozart's early Divertimentos for string quartet. I had hoped they might compare in quality with F X Richter's 7 Quartets op 5 but the music is more conventional and lighter. However as the quartets progress in number they show more original ideas, and it is thought the later numbered works were written later in Nardini's life. They are well played by the Eleusi Quartet.


Sei Suonate per il Cembalo - Paulina Tkaczyk
Sei Suonate per il Cembalo - Paulina Tkaczyk
Price: £21.73

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb sonatas, a bridge between CPE Bach and Haydn, 19 Aug. 2015
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Quite simply these are superb sonatas and my harpsichord find of 2015. Binder (1723-1789) was the court musician in Dresden and held the same position as CPE Bach in Berlin. His sonatas op 1 (published 1759) are inventive, original, bold, surprising, and expressively powerful. They show the influence of style galant, empfindsamer Stil, Sturm und Drang and the classical style. To my ears they are a bridge between CPE Bach and middle period Haydn, particularly the latter, and at times even prefigure Beethoven. Each sonata starts with a long complex movement between 7-11 minutes long. There is not a dull moment from first note to last and as soon as the set finished I played them through again. The playing of Paulina Tkaczyk is superb. She displays just the right form of rhetorical Affekt these sonatas need. The harpsichord also deserves a special mention. It is a copy made by Keith Hill of an instrument by Pascal Taskin dating from 1769. It is a big bold instrument with a strong firm bass, and this is appropriate because Binder's sonatas explore the full range of the instrument. The acoustics are very fine and the instrument is not recorded too closely so there is plenty of air around the notes. This is a superb release and I thoroughly recommend it. I hope more of Binder's music will soon become available.


Göttweig Partitas
Göttweig Partitas
Price: £15.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful harpsichord suites from 1680-90 in the style of Froberger/Pachelbel, 18 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Göttweig Partitas (Audio CD)
These harpsichord suites come from a manuscript containing pieces by Franz Mathias Techelmann (c. 1649-1714) and were probably composed by him between 1680 and 1690. The music is like a cross between Froberger and Pachelbel. They are lovely suites played on a copy of a 18th Italian instrument which has an intimate and sweet sound that perfectly suits the music. They are also very well played by Lydia Maria Black. Strongly recommended.


osse Boutmy: Six Suites for Harpsichord
osse Boutmy: Six Suites for Harpsichord
Price: £9.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Boutmy's Second Livre is not up to his Third and First, 17 Aug. 2015
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This is Boutmy's Second harpsichord book and unfortunately the quality of the music is not up to that of books 1 and 3. Anyone interested in this composer should start with Book 3 played by Isabelle Saveur and then Book 1 by Mario Raskin. The music is much more adventurous. Boutmy's style is strongly based on that of Francois Couperin but there are touches of Rameau, Handel and Scarlatti. At its best it is original and well worth hearing. It is quite different from Fiocco. Between them Fiocco and Boutmy were among the best Belgian composers of harpsichord music. I would also strongly recommend this recording of the harpsichord suites of Jean-Baptiste Loeillet. It's been a favourite of mine on LP for decades and has now been transferred to CD: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luciano-Sgrizzi-J-B-Loeillet-Clavecin-WPCS-16163/dp/B00RU0UH4M/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1439810621&sr=1-1&keywords=loeillet+sgrizzi


Perle del Piemonte: Violin Music in 18th Century Italy
Perle del Piemonte: Violin Music in 18th Century Italy
Price: £10.87

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good performance but the music is weak, 17 Aug. 2015
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I was disappointed by the quality of the music on this disc, although it is played well. All the sonatas are really quite weak except for the one by Giovanni Battista Somis. There are many better discs of 18th century Italian violin music around and in particular I would recommend this one of G B Somis 12 violin sonatas op 1: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Giovanni-Battista-Somis-Violin-Sonatas/dp/B00JRER9MM/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1439808855&sr=1-1&keywords=somis


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