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Bach: Six Partitas

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 25, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

András Schiff's new live-recording of some of the most beautiful piano music by Johann Sebastian Bach. Schiff has long been recognized as one of the leading Bach interpreters on the modern piano. His playing combines spontaneity, intellectual depth, and a ravishing sound with flawless technical finish. Following his worldwide success with Beethoven, his new Bach is certain to receive wide media attention. Booklet includes an extensive essay on the recorded repertoire and a performer's note by András Schiff.

Amazon.com

These partitas are offered out of traditional sequence - V, III, I, II, IV and VI. Although there is no reason to think that Bach wrote the partitas to be performed together, this arrangement provides the most logical key progression (G - a minor - B flat - c minor - D - e minor). From his side of the footlights, Andràs Schiff also notes that in live performance the inner tranquility of the B-flat major partita (traditionally #1), is something that live audiences are seldom ready or settled-in to hear. As one would expect, you can't hear Schiff using any pedal, but the abstinence is much more pronounced than his earlier recording or most other prominent renditions. The effect is liberating. Free from lingering harmonics, this performance seems dedicated to the melodies within, as line and voice assume a clarity seldom heard. Recorded live in a 16th Century former armory in Neumarkt, Germany, there is an almost eerie lack of audience noise, although the placement of left and right hands in the stereo image is nigh on perfect. Schiff leads the listeners unflagging attention in an unbroken thread for hours. Masterly. -- Hugo Munday
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Product Details

  • Composer: J.S. Bach
  • Audio CD (August 25, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: ECM NEW SERIES
  • ASIN: B002FEUOA0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,154 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Douglas Weaver on October 4, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This performance is spontaneous, joyous, cleanly articulated, but with enough ambient resonance to warm the tone. I don't think anyone records piano as well as ECM. And Andras Schiff--his first recording was so good it seemed redundant to record the partitas again, but I'm delighted he did. His phrasing highlights the structure of these works with a light touch, and he's found a rightness of tempo--especially as one movement relates to those before and after it. I tend to prefer historical instruments in baroque music, but Schiff succeeds in making the partitas utterly convincing on the piano. Too often, the ornaments that are tossed off effortlessly on a harpichord become feats of athleticism on the piano, but the trills, mordents and grace notes here succeed in embellishing the musical line without hi-jacking it.

The notes state that this is a live recording, but you would never know it. It's note-perfect and there's not a peep from the audience. It's like stumbling upon a splendid acoustic space where a master pianist is playing for no-one but himself.
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i first want to echo the very positive sentiments of the other reviewers. the sound is extraordinarily good for a live recital, and emi has the uncanny engineering skill to mike an instrument at exactly the sweet spot where neither hall acoustics nor performance mechanisms (breathing, humming or instrument clatter) intrude on the music.

these live performances are vigorous, alert, sharply contrasted, and clearly voiced (there is no hint of pedal). schiff's arrangement of the partitas to form a complete program or "suite of suites" is welcome and convincing.

all that said, there is something about schiff's first traversal of the partitas, back in the 80's on london records, that is to me more unaffected, more alluring and, in effect, more humble. i do not really enjoy the aspect of modern pianism (native to the competitive, faddish and precarious environment of professional musicianship) which is expressed as a style of playing that amounts to "look at how i can play the hell out of this music!" there is a point where articulation, precision, contrast, ornamentation and clarity become ends in themselves, and to my ear there is plenty of that on display in this recital.

on repeated listening i wearied of schiff's excessive use of a very crisp, somewhat loud, staccato or martello articulation (is this supposed to mimic a harpsichord?
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Format: Audio CD
I have heard other eminent pianists play these famous keyboard works by Bach.
Some simply bored me stiff.
Andras Schiff's Partitas, however, virtually fly out from the keyboard. So rhythmic, so lively, so crystal clear, and accoustically so outstanding.
I've heard these works played (though not necessarily in full set) by many other Bach specialists. I don't think Andras Schiff counts himself as one such, but without a single doubt, his reprise on ECM on this set of Bach Partitas rightfully sets him up as one of the most eminent Bach specialists of all times. His is the right temperament, fully nuanced, brilliantly articulated, and with full alertness to style and content.
We do not need any 'period' instrument to high light the style in the case of such eminent interpretation. (I guess Schiff played them on a Borsendorfer).
Well, if Schiff had earlier releases of Bach, his recent reprises certainly call for full attention from the musical world - they are nothing less than greatness itself!
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Format: Audio CD
András Schiff has one of the finest reputations for performing Bach on the piano keyboard of any pianist today. Listening to the 2 CDs recorded immaculately from a live performance with the finesse we have come to expect from ECM is still an incredible experience, no matter how well the listener knows Schiff's way with Bach. These partitas are so carefully considered and executed that they seem like a series of connected thoughts or reveries in Schiff's mind and hands.

'Partitas' simply means pieces for a solo instrument and by that definition there are no hard and fast rules about how they should be constructed (partitas gave way to the more 'academically correct' sonata, works again for solo instrument but that follow a constructed scheme of composition). Schiff's approach is one of respect of the many lines of invention that weave through the embellished core theme: his way with ornamentation is so assured and accurately executed that they truly to embroider the melodic lines and counter lines. How he is able to hold our attention through all six of these impossible difficult works is nothing short of amazing: the fact that they were recording during one performance almost defies credibility.

In a time when contemporary composers are gallantly pushing all the borders of classical music to expand our concept of music in strange and wonderful new realms, it is refreshing to return to the crystalline clarity of Bach's music as an infusion of the basics in tonality, and who to better remind us of how magnificent these works are than András Schiff! This is a 'classic' performance that will surely remain a gold standard for many years. Grady Harp, July 10
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