JS Bach • Britten • Ligeti

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: JS Bach/Britten/Ligeti
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach • Britten • Ligeti
WORKS: Cello Suite No. 6; Third Suite, Op. 87; Cello Sonata
PERFORMER: Miklós Perényi (cello)


Peter Hill is the latest to join the parade of pianists – Edwin Fischer, Glenn Gould, Angela Hewitt, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Sviatoslav Richter, András Schiff and Rosalyn Tureck, to name just a few – who have recorded JS Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. In addition to his explorations of the Second Viennese School, Hill is best known for his monumental cycle of the complete piano works of Olivier Messiaen. Indeed, many of the qualities that characterise his Messiaen are present here: note his use of varied pianistic colours – here muted, there radiant, sonorous then shimmering. And, as in his recordings of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, Hill unfolds contrapuntal lines with clarity, displaying an eloquent understanding of the music’s underlying structure.

Hill’s technique is impressive, but he eschews flamboyant showmanship, bringing instead humility, poise and gravitas to these accounts. Tempos are thoughtfully judged and tend to underscore the reflective, meditative qualities that underlie many of Bach’s later works. The recorded sound is somewhat boxy and the microphones pick up the keyboard hammers. At around £14 for two discs, however, it’s hard to complain.


Kate Bolton