WORKS: Inventions, BWV 772, 773, 774, 775, 776, 777, 778, 779, 780, 781, 782, 783, 784, 785, 786; Sinfonias, BWV 787, 789, 790, 791, 792, 793, 794, 795, 796, 797, 798, 799, 800, 801; Duettos, BWV 802, 803, 804, 805
PERFORMER: Sophie Cristofari (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 488001-2 (distr. +33 1 58 18 35 20; www.ogamrecords.com)
There are classic recordings of Bach’s Inventions and Sinfonias by pianists of the calibre of Glenn Gould, Tatiana Nikolaeva and Rosalyn Tureck, as well as more recent outstanding performances by András Schiff and Angela Hewitt, among others. For those unfamiliar with Sophie Cristofari’s playing, then, this disc may not be an obvious first choice, yet these accounts show a musician of great technical assurance and sensitivity to Bach’s style.
While the instrument Cristofari plays is a brilliant-toned Yamaha grand, she nonetheless shows a familiarity with period performance practice and – bar several unnecessary ritardandi at the end of pieces – avoids an overly Romantic approach through sparing use of the pedal, lucid, finely balanced part-playing and clean articulation. Her wiry, athletic technique ensures, too, that there is never any hint of preciosity in these interpretations. Most admirable, though, is the way in which Cristofari captures the myriad of colours and expressive moods – from sombre reflectiveness to buoyant energy – which Bach forges from the sparest of means. In addition to the Inventions, she includes the four Duettos, BWV 787-801 – complex, often contemplative works, given apposite gravitas in these performances. Kate Bolton