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Bach: 6 French Suites Bwv 812-817 / András Schiff


Release Date: 08/10/1993 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 433313   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 7 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Schiff's first uneasy recorded encounter with Bach was in 1985, after which their entente became increasingly cordiale; his last to be released was five years ago. Have the passing years brought any improvement? Well yes—in some respects. Some time ago I was on the jury of a competition in which one contestant chose a work of mine as his freechoice piece; he played every note—at incredible speed. Afterwards he came to me and asked naively, "How did you like my interpretation of your piece?"; I said "I don't know—I didn't have time to hear it." I have the same feeling about Schiff's gallops through many movements of the French Suites (and Overture). In some movements he is a whisker ahead of all competition, in others Read more it's more: the most acute sufferers are the Allemandes of Suites Nos. 4-6, most of the Courantes, a handful of various galanteries and the Gigues of Suites Nos. 1-4 (the ornaments in that of the Second Suite buzz like hostile hornets).

Other traits for which Schiff has been rightly castigated in the past have been romantic dwellings and rubatos, and over-the-top embellishment that has not always sat comfortably, in particular his use of inegalites. The first has virtually vanished, the second is much improved. Some original ornaments are omitted, some are reserved for the repeats and (except perhaps for the Passepieds of the French Overture) embellishment by diminution and gap-filling is moderated and more tasteful. Inegalites still appear, occasionally lombardic' (as in bar 2—at 028" of the Sarabande of Suite No. 3), but many, such as in the Gavotte of No. 4 and Louré of No. 5 sound distinctly uneasy. In the Sarabande of No. 4 the rhythm is changed in the bass line of bars 13-14 (057") and the treble of 21-22(120'), for no apparent logical reason.

Alongside this there is much excellence: the galanteries are light of step even when their tempos are immoderate, staccato is rarely overdone (the Gigue of the French Overture is an exception), and the Gigue of Suite No. 3 is the only instance of aggressive pianism. The Italian Concerto is admirably treated; the Andante is arguably the most beautifully played movement on the entire record, and the opening of the French Overture is majestic and spacious. Schiff, no less than Gould, makes one aware of every strand in the textures, but resorts to no eccentricity in doing so. His respect for Bach's music is evident (his choice of texts is explained in the booklet) and his love for its true face is beginning to show. The piano has a hard, bright sound and the recording is vivid. For those who lean piano- rather than harpsichord-wards in these works, this is the clear choice.

-- Gramophone [10/1993]
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Works on This Recording

1.
French Suite no 1 in D minor, BWV 812 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
2.
French Suite no 2 in C minor, BWV 813 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
French Suite no 3 in B minor, BWV 814 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
4.
French Suite no 4 in E flat major, BWV 815 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
5.
French Suite no 5 in G major, BWV 816 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
6.
French Suite no 6 in E major, BWV 817 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1724; Leipzig, Germany 
7.
Italian Concerto, BWV 971 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; Leipzig, Germany 
8.
Overture in the French style in B minor, BWV 831 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  András Schiff (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; Leipzig, Germany 

Sound Samples

French Suite No.1 in D minor, BWV 812: 1. Allemande
French Suite No.1 in D minor, BWV 812: 2. Courante
French Suite No.1 in D minor, BWV 812: 3. Sarabande
French Suite No.1 in D minor, BWV 812: 4. Menuet I - II
French Suite No.1 in D minor, BWV 812: 5. Gigue
French Suite No.1 in D minor, BWV 812: 6. Gigue
French Suite No.2 in C minor, BWV 813: 1. Allemande
French Suite No.2 in C minor, BWV 813: 2. Courante
French Suite No.2 in C minor, BWV 813: 3. Sarabande
French Suite No.2 in C minor, BWV 813: 4. Air
French Suite No.2 in C minor, BWV 813: 5a. Menuet I
French Suite No.2 in C minor, BWV 813: 6a. Menuet II
French Suite No.2 in C minor, BWV 813: 6. Gigue
French Suite No.3 in B minor, BWV 814: 1. Allemande
French Suite No.3 in B minor, BWV 814: 2. Courante
French Suite No.3 in B minor, BWV 814: 3. Sarabande
French Suite No.3 in B minor, BWV 814: 4. Anglaise
French Suite No.3 in B minor, BWV 814: 5. Menuet
French Suite No.3 in B minor, BWV 814: 6. Gigue
French Suite No.4 in E flat, BWV 815: 1. Allemande
French Suite No.4 in E flat, BWV 815: 2. Courante
French Suite No.4 in E flat, BWV 815: 3. Sarabande
French Suite No.4 in E flat, BWV 815: 4. Gavotte
French Suite No.4 in E flat, BWV 815: 5. Menuet
French Suite No.4 in E flat, BWV 815: 6. Air
French Suite No.4 in E flat, BWV 815: 7. Gigue
French Suite No.5 in G, BWV 816: 1. Allemande
French Suite No.5 in G, BWV 816: 2. Courante
French Suite No.5 in G, BWV 816: 3. Sarabande
French Suite No.5 in G, BWV 816: 4. Gavotte
French Suite No.5 in G, BWV 816: 5. Bourrée
French Suite No.5 in G, BWV 816: 6. Loure
French Suite No.5 in G, BWV 816: 7. Gigue
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 1. Allemande
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 2. Courante
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 3. Sarabande
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 4. Gavotte
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 5. Polonaise
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 7. Bourrée
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 6. Menuet
French Suite No.6 in E, BWV 817: 8. Gigue
Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971: 1. (Allegro)
Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971: 2. Andante
Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971: 3. Presto
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 1. Ouverture
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 2. Courante
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 3. Gavotte I-II
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 4. Passepied I-II
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 5. Sarabande
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 6. Bourrée I-II
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 7. Gigue
Partita (French Overture) for Harpsichord in B minor, BWV 831: 8. Echo

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