Bach, Busoni, & Beethoven

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Chopin,JS Bach
LABELS: Signum
WORKS: Bach: Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C, BWV 564 (arr. Busoni); Partita No. 6 in E minor, BWV 830; Concerto No. 3 in D minor, BWV 974 – Adagio (arr. Marcello); Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 30 in E, Op. 109; Chopin: Prelude No. 4 in E minor, Op. 28; Etude No. 12 in C minor, Op. 25
PERFORMER: James Rhodes (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD185

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Having been one of the doubters when James Rhodes made his public debut two years ago, I am now happy to eat my words. Then, he seemed destined for a career in which moderately good pianism would provide the excuse for a self-indulgent wallow in the emotional wreckage of his past, but though he still trades on that wreckage – drugs, depression, time spent in psychiatric hospitals – it’s now harnessed in the service of music.

His pianism has dramatically improved, most notably in Bach, whose Partita he delivers here with exuberant grace. He may not possess his hero Glenn Gould’s laser-like accuracy, but the control and transparency of his playing at speed is impressive, and he finds grave beauty in the Sarabande.

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His account of the Beethoven sonata is nicely thought through, but it needed more space to breathe; the Bach-Busoni has fitting sonorousness. None of this may be earth-shattering, but since the street-smart Rhodes may attract a new audience for classical music, good luck to him. Michael Church