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A Bridge To Bach
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
Lord of Salisbury Pavane and Galliard [4:33]
Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621)
Mein Junges Leben Hat Ein End [6:45]
More Palatino [3:30]
Fantasia (G Dorian) [7:35]
Unter der Linden Grüne [4:19]
Pavana Chromatica (Mrs. Katherin Tregian's Paven) [6:27]
Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1656)
A Sad Pavane for These Distracted Times (1647) [5:18]
Pavane (1650) [2:44]
Voluntary (1647) [2:36]
Johann FROBERGER (1616-1667)
Ricercare VI [3:03]
Ricercare XIII  [3:47]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Fuga Op. 131 (1826) [6:45]
Giles FARNABY (c.1563-1640)
Loth to Depart [4:11]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sinfonia in F Minor [3:43]
Andrew Rangell (piano)
rec. Gardner Museum, Boston, June 2006
BRIDGE 9216 [65:23]


There’s something of a Glenn Gould feel to this recital. He admired the English Virginalists and Sweelinck, to say nothing of Bach, though here the resemblance ends. Gould’s clarity and contentious articulation differ radically from Andrew Rangell no-holds-barred romanticist inflexions and dare devilry in this repertoire. His conception is entirely pianistic and he revels in the sheer pomp of his Steinway and the myriad voicings and colours he can evoke.  

Gibbons’s Lord of Salisbury Pavane and Galliard is a ceaseless play of colour and burnish, kaleidoscopically fascinating and intensely rich. Then too he makes a powerful point of the polyphony of Sweelinck’s Mein Junges Leben Hat Ein End the variations flowing with timbral variety and constantly shifting weight. The questionable aspect of this approach, and it applies throughout, is a thickening of textures and an extraneous romanticist spirit which can mould the pieces too inflexibly to Rangell’s will. So More Palatino is robust and excitingly expressive and played with a sense of almost plastic verve and he clearly relishes the voicings, colour, metrics and false relations of Tisdall’s Pavana Chromatica.

So we find too that he really digs into the dotted rhythms of Sweelinck’s Fantasia (G Dorian) and evokes its tenacious modernity with avid brilliance. But when it’s necessary he brings gravity to the discourse – try Tomkins’ remarkable essay A Sad Pavane for These Distracted Times. He’s right to stress the stretto fugue aspect of the same composer’s 1650 Pavane and equally I think to play with such masculine vigour Sweelinck’s Unter der Linden Grüne. His playing of the Bach is of a piece with his performances throughout the recital. For brief moments Bach sounds almost impressionist and this workover sounds radical enough for any recitalist.

Rangell’s playing is intensely engaging but might prove equally enraging. I think it’s best to put historicist objections, which will be overwhelming, to one side and to take the disc on Rangell’s own terms. Much here is like metal heated over flame - dangerous and exciting – but sometimes a more malleable instrument is called for. 

Jonathan Woolf 

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