Notes and Editorial Reviews
In place of customary analytical notes, the booklet here is given over to an absorbing interview with Brendel about playing Bach on the piano (something he did not do in recitals for a number of years), and it explains why throughout the record there is no attempt to don a periwig or emulate the crisper sonority of a harpsichord. This remastered CD brings a full-size grand piano with sustaining pedals right to your fire-side. The only times when the instrument does not sound like a piano is when Brendel somehow manages to suggest an organ, as in the registration of the two deeply expressive, beautifully-paced choral preludes, and even more in the A minor Prelude, BWV922, where generous pedalling at the start conjures up the reverberation of
a very resonant church. To Brendel as prophetic as it is unpredictable—and much less effective on the harpsichord than the piano—this rarely-heard, extended Fantasia (to use its more truthful alternative title) shows his approach at its most flexibly Romantic. At times in the whimsical fugal section I even began to wonder if I was listening to Schumann. For Brendel each individual piece plainly dictates its own style, so that in the more typically Bachian Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, BWV904, ending the whole recital, not one whit of the music's arresting contrapuntal ingenuity is ever allowed to escape attention.
The Italian Concerto is memorable for a beautifully sung and moulded slow movement, also for a finale never allowed to sound `by the yard' despite its perpetuum mobile (as Brendel describes it) motion. In the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue he combines a very personal voice with affecting Classical dignity.
-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [5/1985]
reviewing the original CD release of this title
Works on This Recording
Italian Concerto, BWV 971 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Alfred Brendel (Piano)
Written: 1735; Leipzig, Germany
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