Bach, Beethoven, Webern: English Suite No. 6 in D minor, BWV 811; Piano Sonata in A flat, Op. 110; Variations, Op. 27

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Beethoven,Webern
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: English Suite No. 6 in D minor, BWV 811; Piano Sonata in A flat, Op. 110; Variations, Op. 27
PERFORMER: Piotr Anderszewski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 5 45632 2
These performances originate from Anderszewski’s first CD, made in Warsaw in 1996 (for Accord). He is at his very best in the Webern Variations, which are more convincingly shaped (and far better recorded) than the DG recording by his compatriot Krystian Zimerman; but elsewhere, there are times when interpretative eccentricities seem to detract from a coherent concept of the whole. The opening movement of Beethoven’s Op. 110 Sonata is rather over-pedalled – the rapid arabesques traversing the keyboard really need to sound lighter and more transparent – and Anderszewski’s rubato isn’t always convincing. His extremely slow view of the tragic aria of the Sonata’s latter stage (‘Adagio ma non troppo’ is Beethoven’s suggested tempo) is nothing if not idiosyncratic, but it does allow him to handle the gradual return to life of the final fugue splendidly – despite the bizarre staccato rendering of one or two fugal entries for which Beethoven neglected to provide phrase markings. Anderszewski’s rubato and his irregularly placed accents in the opening pages of Bach’s D minor English Suite may cause raised eyebrows, but on the whole he gives a compelling account of this monumental work. And when all’s said and done, it’s infinitely better to have a controversial personality than no personality at all. Misha Donat

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