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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger



Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Three Partitas for Keyboard

Partita No.6 in E minor, BWV 830
Partita No.3 in A minor, BWV 827
Partita No.1 in B flat major, BWV 825
Piotr Anderszewski, piano
Recorded November 2001 at the Studio de la Fondation Tibor Varga, Sion, Switzerland
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5455262 [68:10]


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Comparison Versions: Rubsam/Naxos, Rangell/Dorian, Tureck/Philips

Piotr Anderszewski has made quite a reputation for himself in recent years, and he is now regarded as one of the best young pianists in the world. I first became familiar with his artistry through an excellent Harmonia Mundi disc containing Bach’s French Overture BWV 831 and the French Suite BWV 816. Since that time, he has recorded the Brahms Violin Sonatas with Viktoria Mullova for Philips and a disc of Mozart Piano Concertos for Virgin Classics.

As fine as the above recordings are, what really turned me on to Anderszewski was his recording of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, also for Virgin Classics. To say that he is outstanding in this work is putting it mildly. Anderszewski seems to have examined every musical cell in terms of putting across his unique perception of Beethoven’s music and psychology. As a result, each variation is a surprise and either revelatory, compelling, or delightful. I consider the performance the best modern recording of the Diabelli Variations on record.

With the above in mind, I expected more in the way of revelation from this new recording. Although the performances are certainly of high quality, I detect little of the creativity and insight that he supplied the Diabelli Variations.

He gives the 1st Partita a fairly mainstream reading. He is slower than the norm in the Praeludium and the Sarabande, but others including Wolfgang Rubsam are even slower. The fast movements are very brisk, crisp and driven with excitement. The slow movements, particularly the Sarabande, are an exceptional blend of comfort and melancholy. Intervals are well chosen throughout, and inflections/accenting could hardly be better. In the 3rd Partita, the same comments generally apply although Anderszewski is even more mainstream concerning tempo than he is in the 1st Partita.

Only in the 6th Partita does Anderszewski show any inclination to reshape our customary opinions of the music, and he does so through some unique rhythmic patterns. Anderszewski’s greater originality in the 6th Partita might explain why it is programmed first on the disc.

Overall, I most like the Gigues where he is totally invigorating and demonstrative. Some listeners prefer them played slower and with substantial nuance, but I find that the perfect way to play them is to bear down and ‘let it rip.’

In conclusion, I am disappointed that Anderszewski rarely stakes out new territory in his interpretations of these three works. Those of you familiar with the highly individualized accounts from Tureck, Rangell and Rubsam will not find his performances unusual.

My expectations were likely too high based on his Diabelli Variations disc. No artist can come up with revelatory interpretations on a constant basis, and Anderszewski is human like the rest of us. His performances are excellent but I’ll take the Rubsam recordings on Naxos any day of the week; Rubsam also enjoys the advantageous Naxos price. He is given a better soundstage than Rubsam, but that is the only aspect of the production where he is to be preferred.

I recommend Anderszewski’s newest recording but firmly believe it could have been much better. At this point, I wait with keen anticipation to hear what he will do with his next few releases.

Don Satz



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Musicweb sells the following labels
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Sheva
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