J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Tre Sonate - Concerto Italiano - Quattro Duetti - Capriccio

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Sviatoslav Richter
Individual Works:Sonata in C after Reinken, BWV 966
Sonata in D, BWV 963
Sonata in D Minor, BWV 964 (violin sonata BWV 1003)
Capriccio in E, BWV 993
Four Duets, BWV 802 - BWV 805
Italian Concerto, BWV 971
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Stradivarius
Catalog Number:STR 33323
Year Released/Recorded:1991
Total Playing Time:76'22"
Comments:Bradley Lehman said:

Most of these pieces are rarely recorded on piano. Richter underplays the dramatic qualities of the music in favor of an objective, undifferentiated literal presentation of the notes. He shows either a thorough misunderstanding or thorough disregard of Baroque principles of phrasing, articulation, gesture, rhetoric, ornamentation, and notational conventions. His treatment of rhythm in the violin sonata arrangement is particularly wooden and unimaginative, and phrases are run together with no sense of vocal breathing space. It also sounds nothing like the physical motions of violin bowing.

Despite all those caveats (which some may consider virtues), this is obviously some highly polished piano playing: graceful, effortlessly flowing, relaxed, gentle, and beatifically clueless. These are intimate performances with beautifully controlled tone, evenly-weighted fingerwork, few dynamic contrasts, no eccentricities, and no surprises. The tempos are steady except for a few rushed moments in the Italian Concerto, and the articulation is almost always a neutral legato. Richter is forthright in playing exactly what he sees on the page, and leaves everything else to the listener's imagination.

This disc will probably appeal to listeners who believe Bach's music needs only a straightforward reading to make its points. To those who expect more from Bach performance than a cleanly controlled surface sound, this recording will seem merely pretty and directionless.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Bradley Lehman
Date First Submitted:05/23/1999