Buchbinder: Bach

Rudolf Buchbinder plays JS Bach's Partitas Nos 1 & 2 and English Suite No. 3.

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Buchbinder: Bach
WORKS: Partitas Nos 1 & 2; English Suite No. 3
PERFORMER: Rudolf Buchbinder (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88875053302

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After magisterial recordings of Haydn and Beethoven sonatas, and a short foray into Schubert, the Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder turns his attention to Bach, and he takes to that idiom like a duck to water. There’s nothing radically new in his conception of these dance suites, yet every piece feels freshly imagined.

The Praeludium to the First Partita is played with severe precision, but its structure is signposted by delicate rubatos. The pace at which Buchbinder takes the Allemande is gentle, with the notes slightly détaché; small surges of bass warmth at the conclusion of each section suggest contours. The Corrente comes vigorously staccato first time round, and with a silvery cantabile in the repeat; the opening statement of the Sarabande is lyrical but restrained, then grows increasingly ornamented to a point where the ornamentation becomes integral to the melodic line. In the first Menuet the ornaments are unexpected and playful, and the closing Giga goes like the wind, with just a few legato bass notes to anchor the immaculate staccato hailstorm above.

In other words, the delight of this recording lies in the detail. When full-dress grandeur is called for, as in the Sinfonia to the Second Partita, Buchbinder provides it in spades, and when athleticism is required – as in the final two movements of that work – he’s ready with that too.

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Buchbinder manages to suggest a completely different sound-world with the opening to the English Suite – with a resounding percussive clangour – and when it’s time for school’s-out exuberance, as in that work’s closing Gigue, he coruscates. His next Bach recording can’t come too soon. Michael Church