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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV850
Prelude and Fugue in F sharp major, BWV857
Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV869
Italian Concerto in F major, BWV971

Youri Egorov (piano)
Rec 1993, Studio Gravison
PAVANE ADW 7029 2 [37.07]

 

Experience Classicsonline

There is a long and noble tradition of Bach interpretation on the piano, and Youri Egorov, who died tragically young, makes an interesting contribution to its literature. He has both the technical resource and the musical imagination to make an expressive point in the service of Bach's remarkable and truly indestructible music. And taken as a recital, judged on its own terms, his performance gives much pleasure. The recorded sound is ambient, with a pleasing perspective which gives clarity to dynamic shadings. These things are just what is required for Bach's keyboard music.

However, there are some significant drawbacks, which are sufficient to put the disc out of court as a recommendation. First of all, it plays for a mere 37 minutes, roughly half what the prospective purchaser is likely to encounter elsewhere. Then the documentation is thin, to put it mildly. There is nothing whatsoever about the music, only a badly translated and poorly proofed biography of the artist. As if to compound that problem with production standards, neither the three Preludes and Fugues nor the Italian Concerto is given separate cue-points for individual movements, thus making it difficult for the listener to locate individual sections of the music. These things may have happened during the early days of CD, but they are unacceptable today.

The most interesting performance is that of the B minor Prelude and Fugue (No. 24 of Book 1). Egorov takes a boldly slow tempo for both sections, to the extent that some might find his interpretation bizarre. It would be impossible to perform the music this way on the harpsichord, the instrument for which Bach conceived it, and as such the tempo and the withdrawn pianissimo dynamic are inauthentic. Yet it is a tribute to Bach's consummate imagination and skill that the performance achieves a strangely mesmeric and compelling effect. Try listening to the opening (TRACK 3 0.00) of the Prelude, and the point is immediately made. No other performance is likely to be remotely like it, since it lasts more than 17 minutes. The fugue only serves to intensify the visionary experience (TRACK 3 14.23), making a slow but inexorable progress of remarkable concentration.

After this the Italian Concerto (TRACK 4 0.00) lifts the clouds and is altogether more 'normal' as an interpretation. In fact it is thoroughly uplifting. Although this is a challenging CD recital, full of interest, it is pity that its brevity and the spectacularly poor production standards undermine it as a competitive commercial proposition.


Terry Barfoot

 



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