on May 21, 2002
The real gems of this disk are the Chorale Prelude transcriptions. Demidenko plays these pieces beautifully, especially Durch Adams fall ist ganz verdebt and Jesus Christus Unser Heiland. One can really appreciate the beautiful sound of the Fazioli piano in these pieces in particular. My one reservation about the chorale preludes is 'Watchet Auf'. The only recording I know of that does this justice is Angela Hewitt's recording of Bach Arrangements(Kempff also doesn't do a bad job of this). The playing doesn't quite convey the spirit of this piece.
Demidenko also does a particularly good job of the Fantasia and the Chacconne, although some might find the Chaconne a little too slow for their liking. However don't get the wrong impression, Demidenko can break into great moments of power and speed. This is Demidenko's late romantic playing at its best.
He also gives a good account of the Prelude and Fugue BWV 532, although its not up to Gilels account of the same piece. Gilels manages to create a beutiful organ like sonority from the piano, and gets the tempo just right in each part. However Demidenko's faster fugue makes for a barnstorming interpretation.
I recommend this disc highly, as I said especially for the exceptional playing of the chorale preludes, and also the Fantasia and Chaconne. My one reservation regarding this disc is the sound. The tone could be a little fuller (perhaps the piano needed to be closer to the mike?) which is unfortunate because Demidenko is using a beutiful Fazioli piano. Don't let put you off though, because the recording quality is still superb.
on January 14, 2007
I agree with the previous reviewer about the chaconne, some might find it too slow. Especially if you are used to Kissin's performance. I personally think Demidenko's more unified treatment of the variatons is refreshing. He creates contrast through deep colorful poetry, and sheer power as opposed to using many parametric changes. In my opinion this interpretation is the perfect balance of romantic power and depth with Baroque form and character. On top of the performance alone, the Fazioli piano chosen has absolutely stunning soud quality and is perfect for Busoni.
on July 26, 2012
There are many ways to skin a cat or so the saying goes. One has to take that philosophy with them even to approach this music with an open mind and ear. It's Bach or is it? After all, Busoni took Bach's organ music and bent it in an entirely new way for the modern piano. Busoni had an impressive reputation as a player and it seems he considered this music a living entity that could change and morph into something new at each sitting. So if you are a staunch Bach traditionalist, this is going to rattle your world right from the beginning. Busoni changes aren't limited to accoustic characteristics of the piano vs. the organ either, he also adds notes, puts two different compositions together as one work, completes unfinished pieces and embellishes the music to match his unique vision.
Taking this idea of multiple possibilites with Bach's music and applying it to interpreting Busoni's transcriptions reveals another layer of possibility. Bach's music is so great that it can weather multiple interpretations without any harm. There are other excellent versions of some of these transcriptions but that doesn't render any of them "better" or "superior". Demidenko's vision is a muscular Bach yet it also is a deeply poetic Bach. His vision is more towards the long term architecture of Bach's vision. There are multiple ways of phrasing and presenting these rich, dense journeys of polyphony and Demidenko's is marvelously satisfying.
Bach is like a living language. Busoni showed it can endure the changes and trends in music and his romantic vision of it proved successful and valid. The modern piano makes possible even greater revelations and the results are compelling here. Demidenko comments that the Fazioli piano used on this recording has the ability to sustain the treble range beyond any other piano. He felt this allowed him to tailor his playing to this capability and in the process, reveal new ways of expressing the music. The result is more living Bach, a new vision and unique presentation of perhaps the greatest musical composer in the history of man. The CD ends appropriately with the Chaconne from the solo violin partita #2 in d minor, perhaps the greatest cry from the heart ever made in music.
This is a fantastic CD and anyone who loves Bach and understands the potential of his music to continue to evolve will garner great pleasure from it. 5 stars all the way around.