Notes and Editorial Reviews
Partitas: No. 1 in B?; No. 2 in c.
Preludes and Fugues: in a,
David Theodor Schmidt (pn)
PROFIL PH11025 (67:26)
Although David Theodor Schmidt is a pianist who has not appeared in these pages before, this is not his first CD. ArkivMusic lists another
Profil CD on which he plays a program similar to this one (with some Shostakovich thrown in), and Amazon also lists a Sony Classical disc on which he plays Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Brahms. Schmidt is almost 30, and studied in Karlsruhe and at London’s Royal College of Music.
This is, quite simply, a quietly impressive program. Schmidt’s Bach is sensitive to Baroque style, yet it is very much of the present era. Although his legato playing is enviable, he does not apply it indiscriminately, and there is ample variety in his touch, and also color. This makes his playing consistently interesting, even though he approaches the two partitas with more respect than outward showmanship. He varies dynamics tastefully, and embellishes with discretion. Where appropriate, the music dances, and even if Schmidt chooses some fairly unusual tempos, both slow and fast, he is able to justify them with playing that always is about Bach, not about Schmidt’s ego. I have enjoyed many pianists’ recordings of these works (Murray Perahia on one extreme, and João Carlos Martins on the other, plus many others in between), and Schmidt, even though he is young and not yet as familiar a name, belongs in their company. I hope he goes on to record more Bach on the piano.
Coupling Bach with Liszt’s transcriptions of three of Bach’s organ works was a fine idea. Schmidt brings the virtues of his Bach playing to Bach-Liszt, and adds, in this bicentennial year, the Lisztian element of pianistic virtuosity. Again, however, Schmidt is not interested in following many of today’s more prominent competition winners and media darlings, and he does not treat Liszt as a vehicle for self-display. Even in the most demanding passages—and there are many of them in these three transcriptions—there’s an appealing lack of pretension in Schmidt’s playing. One feels his personality, but more as a conduit for the music than as something immodestly applied to it. This is playing that will go on satisfying the listener long after the thrills that other pianists purvey have faded.
I look forward to more from this pianist, and recommend this CD with enthusiasm.
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
Works on This Recording
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