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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 903 (c. 1720)
Aria variata in A Minor, BWV 989 (c. 1714) [15:42]
Fantasia and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 904 [6:50]
Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 894 [10:08]
Overture in French Style, BWV 831 [25:49]
Jenő Jandó (piano)
rec. Phoenix Studio, Diósd, Hungary, 6-9 April 2004. DDD NAXOS 8.570291 [69:38]
Jenő Jandó is
now so well known through his plethora of recordings for Naxos
that two sentences suffice for his biography in the booklet
notes for this CD. I suppose his recordings speak for themselves.
Jandó is a pianistic
equivalent of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. If you
want anything recorded, he can do it and he will do it with
taste and honesty, and without ego. He plays on a modern instrument,
but is conscious of Classical and Baroque style and form. His
cycle of the Beethoven sonatas is consistently fine and reliably
straightforward, and his ongoing Haydn sonata set is as musicianly
and good-humoured as any in the catalogue. His credentials
as a Bach pianist are also strong. Although I have not heard
his set of the 48 or his Goldberg
Variations, this CD demonstrates that he clearly has an
innate understanding of, and love for, Bach's music.
He starts the Chromatic
Fantasia in an almost Gouldian vein, but after the initial
flurries, Jandó starts to use his pedal a little and allows
himself some fantasy – though not as much as Lise de la Salle
does in her fabulous recording on Naïve. The fugue that follows – which
Gould famously hated and never recorded – is an understated
model of clarity.
The next few pieces
are all in A Minor. The first of these is the Aria variata,
one of only a few examples of theme-and-variation music that
Bach wrote, and a precursor to the later, larger and far more
famous Goldberg Variations. The aria on which the piece
is based is a simple quadruple metre tune and Jandó plays it
with a disarming simplicity that leads naturally into the largo
of the first variation that follows and through the remainder
of the piece.
and Fugue that follows announces itself unostentatiously.
The Fantasia is much more solidly built than the improvisatory Chromatic
Fantasia that opens the album and forms a tight unit
with the fugue, even though the two movements did not appear
together until 1800, long after Bach's death. The Prelude
and Fugue that follow bring the A Minor bracket of the
programme to a close, and again Jandó's freshness and perfect
pacing are most agreeable.
The French Overture is
a counterpart to Bach's Italian Concerto: just as in
the latter piece he assimilates the melodic hallmarks of the
Italian concerto genre, in the French Overture – and
later in the French Suites – Bach appropriates the rhythmic
devices and dance styles that typified the French music of
his time. This piece can seem a bit stolid in the wrong hands,
but Jandó manages the balance between courtly hauteur and joie
de vivre nicely.
programme, Jandó's firm fingers and clear voice-leading lay
the music open for comprehension. He uses pedal, staccato and
ornamentation in moderation. The recorded sound is close, but
always clear and true. Keith Anderson once again provides helpful
liner notes. All up, this is an attractive proposition.
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