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Bach: Keyboard Music / Jenö Jandó


Release Date: 04/24/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570291   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jénö Jandó
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in d. Aria variata in a, “In the Italian Style.” Fantasia and Fugue in a, BWV 904. Prelude and Fugue in a, BWV 894. French Overture in b, BWV 831 Jenö Jandó (pn) NAXOS 8.570291 (69:38)


In the interests of full disclosure, and courting the outrage of the Read more militant cult surrounding the late, great Gould, I have to say that listening to Bach played on the modern piano inevitably leaves me feeling deprived. Basically, I miss the overtones. More overtones equal a more variegated and richer sound. And the strings of a harpsichord, strung at a relatively low tension, produce lots of them. The piano’s greater volume and power is due to its thicker strings held at a tension equaling tons of pressure supported by its steel frame. But volume and power have been achieved at the expense of those color-enhancing overtones. Moreover, the radically different touch required to produce a sound on the harpsichord, not to mention the more rapid decay of its sound, mean that the player of a modern Steinway or Bösendorfer must adopt an arsenal of compensating strategies, consciously or not, to make sense of Bach’s message, which employs—fundamentally and unequivocally—a different tool.


And who can blame pianists for trying? There stands this huge literature, conceived throughout the long lifetime of a man who was coincidentally one of history’s greatest keyboard players and a musical genius as yet unsurpassed. So, fully conscious that what we are hearing is, quite literally, a transcription, we welcome another pianist assaying Bach on the modern piano.


And Jenö Jandó is a very fine pianist. My admiration for his playing even predates his having become a virtual house pianist for Naxos, with his high quality series of Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, and other composers on that label. His musical instincts are always sound, his execution unmannered, and his formidable technique equal to any task he sets himself.


Jandó gives the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue an appropriately fiery performance. If some opportunities for greater drama in the fantasy are resisted, the searching, plaintive quality of the long recitative is beautifully captured. It is hard to imagine the complex textures of this mighty fugue played with greater clarity or in a more determined tempo. The so-called “Italian” variations in A Minor, BWV 989, unfold in a finely wrought sequence, running the gamut from pensive to wild extroversion. Baroque specialists might take issue with some of the interpretive choices in the formidable B-Minor French Overture, BWV 831. For instance, in the luxurious opening Ouverture, this splendid ceremonial music is taken a shade fast, sacrificing some of its gloire . The contrasting fugal section, on the other hand, is a bit slower than what might be considered ideal. The succession of dances that follows—a courante, gigue, sarabande, and pairs of gavottes, passepieds, and bourées—fall within the ballpark of what we know of the character and tempos of Baroque dance. And the jaunty Echo brings this elaborate suite to a satisfying conclusion. The disc is rounded out by two less weighty works, both in A Minor: the Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 904 and the Prelude and Fugue, BWV 894.


Two deeply considered historical performances of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue warrant mention: those by Schnabel (Doremi 7740) and Landowska (EMI 67200). Harpsichordist Christophe Rousset plays both the Chromatic and the French Overture superbly (Oiseaux 339902) and Piotr Anderszewski has recorded an interesting French Overture on piano (911679).


Throughout this demanding and varied repertoire, Jandó’s performances are clean, precise, and intellectually cogent. If he in fact uses the damper pedal at all, it is so discrete as to be inaudible. The studio recording, dating from April 2004, makes Jandó’s healthy sound seem a bit confined, particularly in the Chromatic Fantasy . But the performances themselves, for those whose tastes incorporate Bach on the modern piano, are heartily recommended.


FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
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Works on This Recording

1. Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary 
Length: 11 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary (04/06/2004 - 04/09/2004) 
2. Aria Variata in a, BWV 989 "In the Italian Style" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1714; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary 
Length: 15 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary (04/06/2004 - 04/09/2004) 
3. Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, BWV 904 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1725; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary 
Length: 6 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary (04/06/2004 - 04/09/2004) 
4. Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 894 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary 
Length: 10 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary (04/06/2004 - 04/09/2004) 
5. Overture in the French style in B minor, BWV 831 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jénö Jandó (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary 
Length: 25 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary (04/06/2004 - 04/09/2004) 

Sound Samples

Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903: Fantasia
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903: Fugue
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Aria
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 1: Largo
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 2
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 3
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 4: Allegro
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 5: Un poco allegro
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 6: Andante
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 7: Un poco allegro
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 8: Allegro
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 9
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989: Variation 10
Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, BWV 904: Fantasia
Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, BWV 904: Fugue
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 894: Prelude
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 894: Fugue
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: I. Ouverture
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: II. Courante
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: III. Gavotte I and II
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: IV. Passepied I and II
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: V. Sarabande
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: VI. Bourree I and II
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: VII. Gigue
Overture (Partita) in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831: VIII. Echo

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