£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


BRAHMS Complete Edition
58CD £95.22


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, BWV 846-869
Abdel Rahman El Bacha (piano)
rec. 29, 30 October and 1, 2 November 2010, Chichibu Muse Park, Saitama
TRITON OVCT-00077 [54:48 + 56:36]

Experience Classicsonline


Impressed by Abdel Rahman El Bacha’s recording of Ravel’s complete piano works for the Triton label (see review), my buds of intrigue were alerted when I saw he had recorded Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I. You can never have enough J.S. Bach, and I seem to have acquired quite a variety of recorded versions over the years. This means I’ve pretty much passed the stage of making comparisons, and have come to think more in terms of ‘does this give me pleasure?’ and ‘if not why not/if so why?’ rather than considering any particular version to be ‘better than’. If you love this music on piano, there are so many versions to choose from it’s impossible to tell anyone they should possess one over another, and true J.S. Bach fans will be almost certain to have more than one WTC I in any case.
 
In some ways, the comments I made on El Bacha’s Ravel apply here as well. To paraphrase, I don’t know quite how he does it, but he manages to give relatively straightforward performances of Bach’s refined masterpieces, at the same time making the music highly attractive and desirable. His playing has a ‘romantic’ touch, in that he plays with a certain elasticity, allowing a little rubato here and there to emphasise important harmonic points or to allow melodic phrases to breathe. If I have any criticism of this is the occasional final cadence which is extended perhaps a little too much, but this is a point of taste and a relatively minor one. My spirits are always raised when I hear things I haven’t quite heard in the same way before, and there is something in the way El Bacha does his Prelude No.2 in C minor which makes it sound a little like a virtuoso cimbalom. Is it half-pedalling? Talking of pedalling, El Bacha is less ‘dry’ than some pianists, Angela Hewitt in particular, though by no means does he use the pedal to excess, and clarity is a strong feature of these preludes and fugues. The ‘spring’ in the C minor fugue and the dancing nature of the music such as in the C-sharp major Prelude and Fugue No. 3 is delightfully animated.
 
The Prelude and Fugue No. 4 in C-sharp minor is always an important moment, and El Bacha’s flowing pace in the prelude is lovely, the fugue given plenty of space to expand but not taken to extremes of slowness. He doesn’t spotlight those dramatic entries as the fugue builds, allowing the narrative of the music to maintain its momentum and the notes to speak for themselves. There are pianists who take us on more far-reaching journeys, and whose return to the repose of the final bars is more hard won, but this is still a stirring experience, and one which sits well in proportion to the surrounding pieces.
 
Other highlights for me include the Prelude and fugue No. 8 in E-flat minor, which is supremely poetic in its simplicity in El Bacha’s hands, his ornamentation always measured in the prelude, the beautiful lyrical lines of the fugue shaped with vocal softness. The only place where I feel the tempo might have been a little more ongoing is the Prelude No. 10 in E-minor, where the accompanying undulations are given a little too much presence. Interesting is his little acceleration towards the faster final section, more often leapt on as a quick gear-change by other pianists. El Bacha’s Fugue No. 14 in F-sharp minor is superbly controlled, and it is quite surprising how much expression he can obtain from what is in fact quite a limited dynamic range - he doesn’t swoop or climb much within each piece, keeping a consistency of language and message per prelude or fugue, which adds to the sense of the reading as a well conceived cycle rather than a series of contrapuntal vignettes. El Bacha is uncontroversial, but more importantly is entirely convincing, and brings a smile in sunny pieces like the Fugue No. 17 in A-flat major. The emotional swings aren’t as extreme as with someone like Roger Woodward (see review), but the joy in the music and its rhetorical character is always present even if the deepest profundities are perhaps less searchingly explored - and it has to be said, the recording is much better.
 
This demonstration recording sounds superb both in standard as well as SACD stereo. The Triton label doesn’t go in for surround sound, but with such deep and rich sonics and a beautifully prepared Bechstein instrument this is hardly necessary. The acoustic is nicely resonant without being intrusive. I am extremely impressed by this WTC I, know that it is one to which I will return frequently in future, with only the hope that there is more Bach in the pipeline from Abdel Rahman El Bacha.
 
Dominy Clements
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.