Bach: Aria variata, BWV 989; Adagio, BWV 968; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903; Partita No. 2, BWV 826

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: VAI Audio
WORKS: Aria variata, BWV 989; Adagio, BWV 968; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903; Partita No. 2, BWV 826
PERFORMER: Rosalyn Tureck (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VAIA 1131
Rosalyn Tureck is one of the great originals among pianists. She’s a virtuoso, and in the heroic mould. Her way with Bach is highly emphatic, commanding, diametrically opposed to the gracefully shaped contours and cautious tastefulness of other pianists. She carves out the music as if with a chisel, but with passionate conviction.

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Sadly, Tureck is ill-represented on disc, largely by live recordings of very poor sound quality. This is an exception – a magnificent programme, decently recorded, from a concert in the Great Hall of the St Petersburg Philharmonic, that shows her as clear, controlled and concentrated as ever. She was 79 at the time.

It’s almost invidious to select examples, but her range is shown by the lovely third movement (Lament) of the Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother, the dazzling Chromatic Fantasia – dashing and richly varied in articulation – and the final movement of the Partita – flamboyant and colourful. One of the encores is a ravishing, melting performance of the E flat minor Prelude from Book One of the ‘48’.

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This disc may not be to everyone’s liking but is a must for any lover of great piano-playing. Adrian Jack