Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Piano Transcriptions - Volume 10
The Complete Transcriptions published in 1862 by Camille SAINT-SAňNS (1835-1921)
Ouverture from Cantata No.29 BWV29 [3:52]
Adagio from Cantata No.3 BWV3 [4:29]
Andantino from Cantata No. 8 BWV8 [6:47]
Bourťe from Partita No.1 for solo violin BWV1002 [3:09]
Andante from Partita No.2 for solo violin BWV1003 [4:57]
Presto from Cantata No.35 BWV35 [3:17]
The Complete Transcriptions published in 1873 by Camille SAINT-SAňNS
Introduction et Air from Cantata No.15 BWV15 (correctly, Johann Ludwig BACH) [2:52]
Fugue from Sonata No.3 for solo violin BWV1005 [7:04]
Largo from Sonata No.3 for solo violin BWV1005 [3:09]
Rťcitatif et air from Cantata No.30 BWV30 [2:29]
Gavotte from Partita No.3 for solo violin BWV1006 [2:55]
Air from Cantata No.36 BWV36 [3:23]

Chúur from Canata No.30 BWV30 [2:41
Transcriptions by Isidore PHILIPP (1863-1958)
Concerto in A minor (after Vivaldi) BWV593; transcription published in 1923 [12:58]
Concerto in D minor (after Vivaldi) BWV596 [13:05]
Nadejda Vlaeva (piano)
rec. November 2010, St Silas the Martyr, St Silas Place, London
HYPERION CDA67873 [77:09]

Itís salutary to realise that this is now the tenth volume in Hyperionís ĎPiano Transcriptionsí series, one that is proving outstanding in every way. Whereas volume nine was devoted to transcriptions by a phalanx of British composers ó Berners, Goossens, Howells, Fryer, Bax, Borwick, Bantock.ó this one concentrates on two Frenchmen. The majority of works are from the two sets of transcriptions published by Saint-SaŽns, but there are also two big Bach-Vivaldi transcriptions by the great pianist Isidore Philipp.

Saint-SaŽnsí transcriptions were published in 1862 and 1873 and were clearly helpful in propagating Bachís works domestically and professionally in France. They are also stunningly impressive in their own right. For both sets he chose music from cantatas, and solo violin works. The earlier set opens with the Ouverture from Cantata No. 29 in which Nadejda Vlaeva displays a splendid sense of colour and rhythmic energy, applying bass accenting with apposite weight and voicing appealingly. The Adagio from Cantata No. 3 is full of expression and then pealing vehemence, Saint-SaŽns exploiting the rapid oscillation between the two for its full effect. The richly plangent Andantino from Cantata No.8 is one of the discís highlights. The single movements from the First Violin Partita and the Second Violin Sonata are deftly played, and fully assured contrapuntally. As ever Saint-SaŽns knows how to end a sequence and as with his fabulous …tudes, he ends the first set with a scintillating transcription of the Presto from Cantata No.35.

For the later set he took the Fugue from the Third Sonata for Violin, adding its Largo for good measure ó and thereís plenty of panache and bravado here, and effulgence in the latter movement. The piece that ends this second set, the Choeur from Cantata No.30, is textually quite thick, and genuinely celebratory.

Isidore Philipp (1863-1958) was a friend of Saint-SaŽns, and a most distinguished musician in his own right. In 1935 he recorded some of his friendís cello music with Paul Bazelaire, a disc still available on Pearl. His rich, powerful transcriptions of the two Bach (after Vivaldi) concertos are resplendent, exciting, virtuosically inclined in their extrovert intensity, and their richly refined and rewarding slow movements. Their confidence, dramatic octave doublings, and swagger, make for blistering, and wholly marvellous listening.

As ever Hyperionís booklet is first class in all respects and the recorded sound is perfectly judged.

Bulgarian pianist Nadejda Vlaeva proves a heroic interpreter of these works, driving through with panache, rounded tone, richly balanced chords, strikingly intimate gestures and intense, but never tone-forced, splendour.

Jonathan Woolf

Driven through with panache, rounded tone, strikingly intimate gestures and intense, but never tone-forced, splendour.