JS Bach

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: English Suites Nos 1, 3 & 5
PERFORMER: Piotr Anderszewski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2564621939


Piotr Anderszewski has remarked that playing Bach on the piano is all about ‘suggestion’. In truth, though, he doesn’t so much ‘suggest’ as lead the ear like some pianistic Pied Piper. He dispenses tantalising aperçus with a touch that delights in nuanced voicing of the most rarefied expressiveness. He can out-dance Angela Hewitt and muster even more sparkle than Murray Perahia.

But such gifts are not without their dangers. Bach could be halfway to Lübeck in the commodious span Anderszewski allots to the G minor Suite’s Sarabande – almost nine minutes including the elaborate ‘doubles’. And if the opening is more clangorously grumpy than majestically stern, the music soon withdraws into an ethereal inwardness that is spellbinding if far removed from the world of the 18th-century Sarabande. Allemandes, similarly, tend to be detached from their dance roots to produce delectable oases of poetic poise; and the A major Suite’s bucolic Prelude is perhaps a touch self-regarding in its leisurely advance.

Yet who would willingly forego Anderszewski’s endlessly illuminating pianism in the name of bland ‘correctness’? He oxygenates everything he touches. The conspiratorial furtiveness of the A major Suite’s second Bourrée is irresistible, the repeated bass ‘Gs’ of the G minor’s insouciant Gavotte are dispatched with impish twinkle, and with what exquisite delicacy Anderszewski tracks an inner ascending and descending scalic figure in the A major’s Allemande!

For anyone who loves Bach (or the piano), with even the more contentious moments proving dangerously seductive, this life-enhancing disc is required listening.


Paul Riley