Bach Inspirations

Album title:
Bach Inspirations
Composer(s):
Busoni, Franck; Liszt; Grainger; Arrangements by Liszt, Rachmaninov; Bauer; Vaughan Williams
Works:
Franck: Prelude, Choral et Fugue; Liszt: Fantasia and Fugue on the Theme B-A-C-H; Grainger: Blithe Bells, after BWV 208; plus arrangements by Liszt, Busoni, Rachmaninov, Bauer and Vaughan Williams
Performer:
Hannes Minnaar
Label:
Cobra Records
Catalogue Number:
COBRA 0038
Performance:
starstarstarstarstar
Recording :
starstarstarstarstar
5
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
Bach Inspirations

As a follow-up to his sensational debut album of Rachmaninov and Ravel (Etcetera KTC 1432, reviewed January 2012), Queen Elizabeth Competition prize-winner Hannes Minnaar has assembled a programme of music either based on or inspired by JS Bach. He at once establishes his Bachian credentials with a reading of Liszt’s transcription of the A minor Prelude and Fugue BWV 543 that combines a sense of inspirational fantasy with unfailing structural flair. His golden touch and linear sensitivity highlights the music’s internal logic, yet like a true Romantic he creates the impression that underlying Bach’s contrapuntal wizardry is a compelling emotional narrative.

Liszt takes full creative honours with his Fantasia and Fugue on
B-A-C-H
homage, and Minnaar hurls himself into the fray with thrilling abandon, offsetting speaker-shaking resonances with gently whispered asides, culminating in a devil-may-care fugue of insatiable forward momentum. Still more remarkable is a magical account of Franck’s Prélude, Choral et Fugue, in which the composer’s sometimes awkward finger-patterns dissolve into radiant textural shimmerings of Debussyan allure.

Minnaar’s exceptional ability to conjure up a potent soundworld in just a few notes pays special dividends in a series of transcriptions by Busoni, Bauer, Vaughan Williams and Grainger, culminating in a joyously exultant reading of Rachmaninov’s realisation of Bach’s Violin Partita No. 3.

Julian Haylock

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