> BACH partitas McDermott [TB] : Classical Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
English Suite No. 2 in A minor, BWV807
Partita No. 1 in B flat, BWV825
Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV826
English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV808
Anne-Marie McDermott (piano)
Recorded 26-29 April 1999, St George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol
GMN C0112 [63.26]
CD available for post-free online mail-order or you may download individual tracks. For some labels you can download the entire CD with a single click and make HUGE savings. The price you see is the price you pay! The full booklet notes are available on-line.

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If the player has the right touch and technique, Bach's keyboard music sounds particularly well on the piano. So it proves here, for Anne-Marie McDermott articulates every note with the utmost clarity, while maintaining scrupulous attention to Bach's sometimes demanding tempo instructions.

For example, the final Gigue of the second English Suite (TRACK 8: 0.00) is taken at a cracking pace and really does come off. It is probably more technically demanding to perform this kind of virtuoso music on the modern piano than on the two-manual harpsichord, but there are no problems as far as McDermott is concerned. This is a tour-de-force, nothing less.

In fact similar observations can be made of the other lively movements in the collection. In a slightly different character but equally invigorating is the Capriccio of the second Partita. But in this work it is the complex textural writing of the opening Sinfonia (TRACK 16: 0.00) which raises the greatest challenge, to both the pianist and the listener. Again the performance is highly satisfying.

There is more to Bach playing than dexterity and textural clarity, of course. Some might go so far as to argue that it is the slower music, with its timeless poetry, that is the greatest challenge of all. Movements such as the Sarabande is the third English Suite (TRACK 25: 0.00) have a pure and limpid beauty, the phrasing clear in contour and the tone absolutely right for the musical style. For this is one of the best discs of Bach's keyboard music to have been released in recent times. It confirms the quality of the music, and there can be no higher praise.

Terry Barfoot

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