JS Bach: Keyboard Concertos

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Keyboard Concertos No. 5 in F minor, BWV 1056, No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052; English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808; ‘Ich ruf zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ’, BWV 639 (arr. Busoni); ‘Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein’, BWV 734 (arr. Kempff); ‘Jesu joy of man’s desiring’, BWV 147 (arr. Myra Hess)
PERFORMER: Simone Dinnerstein (piano); Kammerorchester Staatskapelle Berlin
CATALOGUE NO: 88697727282

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This club sandwich of two concertos and an English Suite wrapped in chorale prelude arrangements demonstrates both a range of genres from Bach and also sharply contrasting approaches to his music. Simone Dinnerstein reflects present-day performance-practice in the concertos and Suite – lean, sprightly, stylishly ornamented.

The Prelude arrangements are steeped in romantic pianism. Busoni’s ‘Ich ruf zu Dir’ evokes some lovely warmth from close-recorded piano especially when the chorale melody moves to the tenor register, but the ebb and flow of tempo and dynamics, and a blur of trills conflict with the calm of Bach’s original conception. In Wilhelm Kempff’s ‘Nun freut euch’, Bach is barely discernible through a mist of pedalling.

Romantic indulgence infects the opening of the F minor Concerto, with tempo variations skewing the hypnotic pulse. But it’s followed by heavenly piano lyricism in the slow movement and a sparkling finale.

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Dinnerstein drives the English Suite’s ‘Prelude’ at a thrilling pace. The intricate agréments (written-out ornaments) of the Sarabande are most sensitively done while the two lines of the gigue oppose and complement each other with thoughtful subtlety. George Pratt