Friday, 8 December 2017

Bach - Piano Concertos - Pires

Rating: 3/5

Hasn't aged well

Maria Joao Pires is a magnificent pianist whose recordings of Chopin's Nocturnes and Schubert's Impromptus are among my most treasured discs.  This disc of three Bach concertos, originally issued in 1976, is not in the same league as her later recordings for me.

Pires herself plays excellently; she has beautiful tone and a lovely touch.  The orchestral work is pretty stodgy, though, and lacks almost all of the suppleness and spring which informs so many more recent recordings and really brings Bach's music to light.  Tempi are generally slow and are positively funereal in some of the slower movements - which Pires deals with by introducing some rather Romantic-sounding phrasing in places, most notably in the adagio of BWV1052, for example, (which lasts over 9 minutes!).  It just doesn't really sound like Bach to me, however lovely her playing.

In short, this is a recording which has not aged well. However much I respect Maria Joao Pires and love her other recordings, I much prefer Murray Perahia or Angela Hewitt for Bach keyboard concertos on the piano. This is only OK, and I can't really recommend it.

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