WORKS: Keyboard Concerto in D, BWV 1054; Keyboard Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056; Keyboard Concerto in F, BWV 1057; Keyboard Concerto in G minor, BWV 1058
PERFORMER: Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Murray Perahia (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 89690
Shout it from the rooftops (though it shouldn’t be necessary): if Bach-playing comes any finer than this, it’s in some other world. Perahia plays and directs as though he has thought about every note in every part (he may well have done), but every note is so perfect in its placement, duration, tone and articulation, so perfectly true to the enrapturing spirit of the music, that nothing gives so much as a hint of dispassionate calculation. Some may find the piano-playing too refined (a curious but legitimate concept), the music over-interpreted, the long, superbly controlled diminuendos ‘unstylistic’, the hushed pianissimos mannered, but to all but the most musicologically hidebound this release should be cause for unfettered celebration, surpassing even its predecessor (devoted to the better-known D minor, E major and A major concertos).
Texturally, as one would expect from this artist, it’s immaculate; the polyphony could hardly be clearer. But perhaps its most outstanding characteristic is the consistent but beautifully varied sense of movement, from the jubilant and ceremonial (first movement of the D major Concerto, for instance) to the rapt, introspective and poignant (slow movement of the F minor). The phrasing and articulation are models of sophistication and analytical perception, but consistently buoyant and adventurous, the balance between piano and strings is impeccable, the tempi so convincing that any others are inconceivable. If you buy only one CD this year, let it be this one. Jeremy Siepmann