A really fascinating CD from Nimbus giving an insight into the long-forgotten tradition of 'old school' Bach playing. I agree with the reviewer who commented on the sound quality - some of these recordings are OLD - it is top notch and wonderfully clear.
The pianists themselves vary: Hess and Friedman were probably the most acknowledged of them all, although Percy Grainger certainly had a following. Hess's playing, as always, projects simplicity and humanity - she does no damage and actively 'gives' the music. Friedman plays (as does Grainger) transcriptions - well voiced and powerful playing from both pianists, although I feel that Grainger has a clumsy edge to his performance.
The gems here, other than the timeless beauty of Hess's playing, are from the two Harolds: Bauer and Samuel. Of the two, I prefer Samuel's playing - it has a sensitivity that Bauer's lacks, and, despite often sounding a little bit of a struggle for him, he projects with a Hess-like humanity. Bauer's playing errs slightly on the rough side, although his finger-work is often extremely scintillating.
The main point to make is that this is uninhibited Bach playing all round. The simplest of pieces sound magnificent in the right hands, and these pianists, whether in simple or complicated Bach, uninhibitedly project 'meaning'. They do not shy away from emotion in the way that so many Bach players of today do.
Bach pianists of today could do a lot worse than to listen to some of these great performances.