Now Would All Freudians Please Stand Aside CD 1
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV564 (1710) arr. Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) [19:38]
Partita No.6 in E minor, BWV830 (c.1726) [30:51]
Concerto No.3 in D minor – adagio, BWV974 after Alessandro MARCELLO (1689-1747) [4:54]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1828) Piano Sonata No.30 in E major Op.109 [21:51]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Prelude in E minor Op.28 No.4 [2:41]
Etude in C minor Op.25 No.12 [2:40]
Interviews with James Rhodes [16:06]
Video – live at the Roundhouse performing the Bach/Marcello Adagio [5:07]
James Rhodes (piano)
rec. November 2009, Potton Hall. Video footage, 13 May 2009, live at the Roundhouse
CD 2 is an enhanced CD for PC/Mac. Requires Quicktime 7 or later to view the video.
ABC CLASSICS 476 4593 [77:09 + 21:17 + DVD 5:07]
I would ignore the rock star title of this disc and hunker down
with the music. Or, if you prefer, assimilate the title as part
of James Rhodes’s life story, and still hunker down with the
music. The performances reveal the inner man, and these performances
are seldom less than impressive in their own way.
His Bach/Busoni Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major
builds to its climax with inexorable logic, and considerable
digital control. Rhodes’s appreciation and understanding of
Bach is a constant as is his, I suspect, more selective reverence
for Beethoven, whose music he also plays with genuine insights,
sometimes taken to a personalised degree, or length. This is
the case in Op.109, where expression is correlated to time spent.
But the cumulative weight does build, once again, and this time
to the special revelation of the disturbingly intense end to
the sonata’s first movement. His Prestissimo second movement
is vitalising and excellent, and if I find parts of the finale
a touch italicised, just a little point-making in places, his
articulation remains outstanding.
Unhyphenated Bach comes in the shape of the Sixth Partita, in
E minor. Once more the approach is rapt, personal, articulate
and convincing in breadth. He takes the Sarabande at
a daringly slow tempo, and this a noticeable feature of all
the performances of the suites and partitas that I have heard
him give – the need to give time and horizontal space to such
slow movements. The quicker ones are not necessarily correspondingly
quicker, as if to compensate, but unfold at their own natural
pace, albeit still subject to occasional quirks of emphasis
or rhythm or articulation. He finishes the first disc with a
warmly textured Bach/Marcello Adagio, although he can’t
shake my allegiance to Earl Wild here.
The second disc is short, only 27 minutes. There are only two
works, both by Chopin and both adeptly performed, but they only
occupy five or so minutes. The remainder is taken up by interviews
with Rhodes, in which he talks and occasionally plays to illustrate
a point. The disc cover carries a Warning – described as ‘Moderate
impact course language and/or themes.’ That must be like The
Art of Course Fishing, then. Fans of fonts, misspellings
and associated matters might like to note that the qualifier
‘moderate’ is in capitals and bold font which paradoxically
makes it seem as if it’s worse than a couple of F words. Rhodes
is disarmingly sincere – full of humility and humanity. This
disc also has a brief video component - a performance of the
Bach/Marcello live at the Roundhouse, which requires Quicktime
7 or later to view.
Rhodes’ own biography makes for compelling reading but it’s
his musicianship, partly informed by those vicissitudes, that
makes him so interesting a musician.
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