JS Bach, Frescobaldi

COMPOSERS: Frescobaldi,JS Bach
LABELS: Orfeo
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach, Frescobaldi
WORKS: JS Bach: Musikalisches Opfer; Prelude and Fugue, BWV552
Frescobaldi: Three Toccatas
PERFORMER: Konstantin Lifschitz (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: C 676 071 A
Just a decade after he ‘matriculated’ with a Grammy Award-winning disc of the Goldbergs, pianist Konstantin Lifschitz has returned to encyclopaedic Bach – and to a project with a difference. You’ll search in vain for string accomplices in the ‘Canon a 2 violini in unisono’, and he has taken the Trio Sonata ‘in-house’ too, evolving a piano realisation which, unexpectedly, proves the high point of the disc. For this is a Musical Offering which, in acclimatising itself exclusively to the modern concert grand, remembers its keyboard origins in an extemporisation on the King of Prussia’s fortepiano. Somewhat opaquely, Lifschitz likens Bach’s achievement in the Musical Offering to ‘crossing the Arctic Ocean – barefoot’. Luckily there’s nothing frigid about Lifschitz’s interpretation, which sees beyond the counterpoint to a dramatic narrative world which can lend punchiness to the crab canon, regal aloofness to the canon on the ‘Royal Theme’, and finds improvisatory joie de vivre within the towering six-part Ricercar itself. Like harpsichordist Pierre Hantaï on Savall’s more authentic‑style performance, Lifschitz is in the business of making music rather than puzzle-solving, and his inquisitive iconoclasm extends to his CD’s make-weight in the form of Frescobaldi toccatas. Savall’s account with Le Concert des Nations remains light years closer to Bach’s soundworld, but the scintillating interplay of lines in Lifschitz’s Trio Sonata has to be heard to be believed. Can an Art of Fugue be far behind?

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