JS Bach Inventions Nos 1-15, Sinfonias Nos 1-15; A Dębicz Toccatas 1-4
Aleksander Dębicz (piano)
Warner Classics 9029560146 60:33 mins
A YouTube film shows Aleksander Dębicz walking around Warsaw ahead of recording his album Cinematic Piano. Influenced by film music as well as hip-hop, Dębicz’s own toccatas recorded here are very conservative in idiom, yet their rhythmic verve is hard to resist.
If only one could say the same about his playing of Bach’s Inventions, but a general lack of a sense of line and shading results in some lacklustre accounts, not helped by an almost complete absence of even the most basic ornamentation. True, Dębicz plays Bach’s own ornamented alternative version of the E flat Two-Part Invention, but elsewhere the music all too often sounds conspicuously plain when wholly unadorned. The expressive high-point of all these pieces is the tragic F minor Three-Part Invention, yet even here Dębicz’s account plods unremittingly. The E major Two-Part Invention is actually so slow that he deems it wise to omit the second repeat; and his performance of the lyrical B flat piece from the same collection is lacking in warmth and affection. On the plus side, his admirable finger-staccato stands him in good stead in such pieces as the D minor Two-Part Invention as well as the E minor, but it’s not enough to lift these performances to a higher plane.