All products and recordings are chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

JS Bach: Two-part Inventions; Three-part Inventions; Preambulum; Pärt: Für Anna Maria; Für Alina; Variations for the Recovery of Arinushka

Cordelia Williams (SOMM)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

JS BachPärt
JS Bach: Two-part Inventions; Three-part Inventions (Sinfonias); Preambulum in C; Pärt: Für Anna Maria; Für Alina; Variations for the Recovery of Arinushka
Cordelia Williams (piano)
SOMM SOMMCD 0186   63:00 mins


At surface level, the music of JS Bach and Arvo Pärt has little synergy: separated by 250-odd years, the two composers worked in different worlds – can we really compare Baroque masterpieces with modern minimalism? In this intriguing new recording, released as part of Somm’s excellent Céleste series, Cordelia Williams proves that the comparison – at least in terms of Bach and Pärt’s keyboard music – holds water. The opening Für Anna Maria (Pärt, 2006) is beauty constrained; its stark texture and use of the middle range of the keyboard leads neatly into Bach’s two-part Inventions (BWV 772-786). These and the subsequent three-part Inventions (BWV 787-801) were originally written for Bach’s then 12-year-old son to improve his technique – and to distract him from the recent loss of his mother. Pärt’s Für Anna Maria and Für Alina were – as the titles imply – also dedicated to young people during times of need.

Although Pärt incorporates significantly more space within his works than Bach, repeated listening reveals layers of similarity between the two compositional styles. Each work was created around set parameters and a mathematical, intricate design. While Bach’s counterpoint moves with precision through the key signatures, Pärt’s tintinnabuli method is firmly rooted around a central pitch. Both rely on taut melodies, an economy of expression and a highly tonal approach. The concluding Variations for the Recovery of Arinushka (Pärt) and Preambulum in C (Bach) – both immaculately presented – consolidate the underlying theme of comfort and reflection.


Claire Jackson