JS Bach: Racha Arodaky

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Johann Sebastian Bach
LABELS: Air Note
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach: Racha Arodaky
WORKS: Partitas Nos 1-3; Keyboard Concerto in G Major, BMV 973; Sarabande, BWV 812; Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056, etc
PERFORMER: Racha Arodaky
CATALOGUE NO: AIR003

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JS Bach, as so often, dazzles in his six keyboard Partitas with his rich vocabulary of styles and breathtakingly original use of them. These unfailingly attractive pieces, whose title page reminds us of Bach’s intention to delight our spirits, were published separately during the mid-to-late 1720s and then, in 1731, in a collection forming the first section of the four-part Clavierübung.

The young French pianist Racha Arodaky has already impressed me with her disc of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti (reviewed October 2006). Now she has turned to Bach and in a programme which, I hope and imagine, will be one of two: she plays the first three Partitas of Bach’s set, intermingling them with the French Suite’s Sarabande, BWV 812, and three transcriptions of other Bach pieces: the Largo of Keyboard Concerto, BWV 973, Arioso of Keyboard Concerto, BWV 1056, and ‘Suscepit Israel’ of the Magnificat, BWV 243. There is much to enjoy in Arodaky’s Bach-playing: her lucid phrasing, crystal-clear articulation and a pianistic approach that’s freed from any intrusive mannerisms that belong to later styles. The A minor Partita comes over as the strongest all-rounder. Its opening Fantasia flows evenly, with elegantly shaped contours, and its dances are executed with charm and spirit. Dinu Lipatti remains the front-runner for me in the B flat Partita, but there are few disappointments in this sophisticated recital.

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Nicholas Anderson