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Bach: English Suites, Nos. 1, 3 & 6

4.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 31, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Why hasn't Murray Perahia recorded Bach before? The pianist imbues the quicker movements with more excitement and rhythmic drive than Andras Schiff, and greater coloristic and emotional range than Glenn Gould, although Mieczyslaw Horszowski dances more in the third suite. Perahia views the sarabandes from a monumental angle and brings out their harmonic felicities through his masterful weighing of contrapuntal lines and inner dynamics. The superb sound serves both pianist and composer to the fullest. In sum, a wonderful disc that bodes well for future Perahia Bach releases. We hope. --Jed Distler

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: I. Prelude
  2. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: II. Allemande
  3. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: III. Courante I
  4. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: IV. Courante II avec deux Doubles
  5. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: V. Sarabande
  6. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: VI. Bourree I
  7. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: VII. Bourree II
  8. English Suite No. 1 In A Major, BWV 806: VIII. Gigue
  9. English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808: I. Prelude
  10. English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808: II. Allemande
  11. English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808: III. Courante
  12. English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808: IV. Sarabande
  13. English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808: V. Gavotte I
  14. English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808: VI. Gavotte II (ou la Musette)
  15. English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808: VII. Gigue
  16. English Suite NO. 6 In D Minor, BWV 811: I. Prelude
  17. English Suite NO. 6 In D Minor, BWV 811: II. Allemande
  18. English Suite NO. 6 In D Minor, BWV 811: III. Courante
  19. English Suite NO. 6 In D Minor, BWV 811: IV. Sarabande - IVa. Double
  20. English Suite NO. 6 In D Minor, BWV 811: V. Gavotte I
  21. English Suite NO. 6 In D Minor, BWV 811: VI. Gavotte II
  22. English Suite NO. 6 In D Minor, BWV 811: VII. Gigue


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 31, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000062DF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,687 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on August 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD
In the liner notes to his 1998 recording of the "Bach English Suites Nos. 1, 3, 6", distinguished American pianist Murray Perahia makes these observations about the complex harmonic structures which are Bach's counterpoint in these piano pieces, "These structures are not merely clever abstractions: Through the frustration or fulfillment of different musical goals, through the deceiving and delaying of musical expectations, an emotional ebb and flow is created that is never satisfied until the piece is finished. The structure guides the emotions, without which there can be no music. Thus the heart and the mind are united. Bach's genius is to evoke timeless and true human emotions, through the purity and spirituality of his writing - which, ultimately, stands apart from any specific instrumental environment." Having said this, Perahia is indeed a superb guide to these scores, since his playing is elegant, refined, and thoughtful, without the added hubris of excessive emotion. Instead, through his own brilliant technique, he subtly emphasizes the complex harmonic progressions inherent in these scores, whether they are, for example, the prelude that begins the English Suite No. 1 in A Major, or a simple folk melody like the Gigue which closes English Suite No. 6 in D Minor. This is indeed, some of the best piano performances of Bach's pieces that I have heard in a recent recording, made at the classic Swiss recital hall at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, which was also the venue of some of the great Beaux Arts Trio and the very last pianist Claudio Arrau recordings made by Philips in the 1980s. While I'm not sure that this is indeed a definitive recording of these pieces, I do think that they are quite exceptional and worthy acquisitions for fans of Perahia's recordings and Bach's solo works for the piano.
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For the last twenty years I was a huge fan of Glenn Gould to the point
that I believed that when it came to Bach, Gould's was the only opinion
that mattered. After having recently been shown that this was not
necessarily the case I pursued a few other recordings of the English
Suites, including Perahia's and Hewitt's.

In my humble opinion, this one even surpasses the Gould set. I can't
stand the Hewitt set as it sounds to me like she read most of the parts
in the studio and she noticably gets fatigued in many of the ornamentations.

Perahia gives Bach even more life than I thought possible, sparkling
and beautiful. The modern piano and studio also help to put this
recording over the top for me. If you are still skeptical, download
the Gavotte II from Suite No. 6 or the Courante from Suite No. 3. These
are good examples of how the entire set is played by Perahia.
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Format: Audio CD
I would urge any music lover with a perceptive interest in Bach's keyboard music to buy the two CD's of the English Suites by Murray Perahia. It is difficult to conceive how these suites can be played any more beautifully and sensitively. I am one of those who believes that Bach sounds wonderful on a modern piano, and have collected recordings by Gould, Horszowki, Schiff, and Richter. Each of these magnificent pianists bring a special magical quality to the music. Murray Perahia's interpretation of the English Suites, however, is even more magical to me than any others. His tempos and rhythms are perfect for the music. Technically, he is capable of playing the most complex figurations with grace and style. (Listen to his amazing trills which are relaxed and perfectly realized.) Most importantly, his playing contains a profound human quality that transcends all the technical difficulties of the music. Like all great artists, he makes the most difficult figuarations appear to be easy and graceful to play. I urge any lover of Bach music to buy this CD as soon as possible. I am certain you will want to buy the second volume (English Suites #2, #4, and #5), and also his magnificent Handel-Scarlatti album. Then do as I did --- buy Murray Perahia's new "Songs without Words" album and listen to the magic he works with Bach's chorale-preludes, and with Mendelssohn and Schubert, all in magnificent sound from Sony. I'm certain these recordings will brighten up your days!
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Format: Audio CD
Murray Perahia's exploration of the Bach English Suites is fully fleshed out in this sumptuous recording. Perahia displays every facet and nuance of Bach's harmonically rich and melodically joyful Suites on the one instrument which can delve into the profound aural potential of the Baroque master's keyboard compositions: the piano. With ample skill and profoundly beautiful technique, Perahia gives each new idea life and instrumental vivacity. Bass passages spring out with the power of the plucked string of the cello; treble passages entwine themselves with the harmonic urge below; each idea penned by the worthy composer is realised with its own colour and character by Perahia, as though played by an ensemble of skillful musicians. Every vocal line tugs at the spirit, replete with intention. A powerful, subtle and much appreciated recording. Thankyou, J.S. Bach. Thankyou, Murray Perahia.
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