Sir András Schiff piano recital of the complete Bach Partitas, Leipzig 19th June 2019 17.00

Haus Leipzig
Bach and Köthen

Bach Dances

J. S. Bach: Partita G-Dur, BWV 829
J. S. Bach: Partita a-Moll, BWV 827
J. S. Bach: Partita B-Dur, BWV 825
J. S. Bach: Partita c-Moll, BWV 826
J. S. Bach: Partita D-Dur, BWV 828
J. S. Bach: Partita e-Moll, BWV 830

Sir András Schiff (piano)

This was one of the highlights of the festival for me. First of all a few words about the gestation of the incomparable Bach Partitas. Clearly, Bach had been influenced by French music in his composition of the French and English Suites (all begin with a prelude) and  all of which conventionally contain an allemande, courante and sarabande. However, in the orchestral suites there are various combinations of familiar movements but a smattering of unique inventions such as the forlane, badinerie and rejouissance. In the partitas, published as the Clavierübung Op.1, the introductory pieces are all different and possibly experimental - prelude, sinfonia, fantasia, overture, preambulum and toccata. In their central sections he adds all manner of new and established forms such as the gavotte, menuet, passepied, air, rondeau, burlesca and scherzo. Were they conceived with the harpsichord, clavichord, Cristofori  or Silbermann piano in mind ? Should this concern us at all ?

Despite the almost oppressive heat, Sir András Schiff gave one of these flawless performances that on every level one was left with nothing left to say. Surely being reduced to awed silence is an incontrovertible sign of greatness. His complete understanding of the various French dance forms and performance practice, varied, subtle articulation, intensely musical phrasing, affecting expressiveness, minimal or no use of the pedal, polyphonic grasp and clarity of voice, eloquent left hand counterpoint, nobility of overall structure and conception, variation in dynamics, an air of courtly grandeur, organic musical growth, inspiring energy, seamless legato and glorious cantabile, perfectly judged note duration, buoyant rhythmic variety, lightness and a velvet quality of touch never bordering on the harsh even in forte, incandescent tone......need I continue?

An utterly satisfying artistic and aesthetic experience on every conceivable level by one of the greatest pianists performing today and undoubtedly one of the greatest living Bach exponents on the pianoforte.

And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here

Shakespeare, Henry V




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