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Bach Transcribed - Godowsky, Petri, Saint-saens, Siloti / Alessio Bax


Release Date: 10/27/2009 
Label:  Signum U.k.   Catalog #: 156   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Violin Sonatas: N o . 1 (trans. Godowsky); No. 2: Andante (trans. Siloti). Orchestral Suite No. 3: Air (trans. Siloti). Violin Partitas: No. 1: Gavotte (trans. Saint-Saens); Chaconne (trans. Busoni). Flute Sonata in E?: Read more Sicilienne (trans. Siloti). Keyboard Concerto in f: Largo (trans. Bax). Cello Suite No. 3: Boureé (trans. Godowsky). Cantata 208: Sheep may safely graze (trans. Petri). Cantata 140: Zion hört die Wächter singen (trans. Kempff) Alessio Bax (pn) SIGNUM 156 (65:45)


In today’s world of accessibility and hybrid crossover, the debate about whether Bach should be played on the modern piano is no longer relevant. However you wish to experience Bach or any other early master, a number of performance styles are available to you. Alongside the ancient music purists there are equally confirmed piano purists, whose gods are the great concert pianists of the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Godowsky, Siloti, Busoni, Petri, and company took the music of Bach and dressed it in the garb of their contemporaries, partly to display their pianistic prowess, but also in a genuine attempt to bring what they regarded as great music to the masses. In their own view, these virtuosos treated Bach with veneration and respect. We continue to enjoy their transcriptions today for two reasons: (1) Bach’s music is wonderfully resilient; and (2) the transcriptions can only be mastered by someone with an amazing technique. Audiences still like to be astonished.


Alessio Bax astonishes along with the best of them. His well-chosen program is bookended by two major works of inordinate technical difficulty: Leopold Godowsky’s transcription of the First Violin Sonata and Busoni’s monumental Chaconne from Partita No. 1. In both, Bax shows great control and a rare ability to “terrace” contrasting dynamic levels, even at fast tempos (for example, the final movement of Godowsky’s Violin Sonata). Like Hamelin, his technique is secure enough not to have to add ritards or arpeggiated chords when the going gets tough.


Between these two works, Bax gives us a program of encores in which he recreates the tender, lyrical side of the virtuoso persona. When Alexander Siloti arranged the Air from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, or the Sicilienne from the Flute Sonata, or Egon Petri made his transcription of “Sheep May Safely Graze,” the idea was to entrance their audience with playing of great beauty: laying out the melodic line like a series of gems against a warm velvet backdrop (to continue the metaphor), with intricate filigree to set it off. Bax understands that and is fully capable of realizing it.


Hyperion has covered this territory with a series of excellent CDs from different pianists. Even so, there are rarities in Bax’s program. Petri’s “Sheep May Safely Graze” and Kempff’s “Zion Hört die Wächter singen” are less well known than the transcriptions by Ignaz Friedman (and Harriet Cohen also, in the case of the second). The Kempff begins gently enough, but with the gradual addition of octave doublings and fuller harmonies, it reaches a grand apotheosis reminiscent of the organ. Bax’s own transcription of the Largo from the F-Minor Concerto (yes—by Alessio, not Arnold) brings a comparatively modern touch in its detached accompaniment, and a welcome calmness before we are plunged into the massive statements and dazzling decoration of Busoni.


In short, this disc is a must.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Violin solo no 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Notes: Arranger: Godowsky. 
2.
Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd!, BWV 208 "Hunt Cantata": Schafe können sicher weiden by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713; Cöthen, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 18 Secs. 
3.
Suite for Orchestra no 3 in D major, BWV 1068: Air by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 32 Secs. 
4.
Partita for Violin solo no 1 in B minor, BWV 1002: 7th movement, Tempo di Bourée by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
5.
Sonata for Violin solo no 2 in A minor, BWV 1003: 3rd movement, Andante by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 51 Secs. 
6.
Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord in E flat major, BWV 1031: 2nd movement, Siciliano by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1734; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
7.
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140: no 4, Zion hört die Wächter singen, das Herz tut in ihr by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
8.
Concerto for Harpsichord in F minor, BWV 1056: 2nd movement, Largo-Arioso by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 42 Secs. 
9.
Suite for Cello solo no 3 in C major, BWV 1009: 5th movement, Bourée by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
10.
Partita for Violin solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: 5th movement, Chaconne by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Length: 14 Minutes 28 Secs. 

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