Johann Sebastian Bach
Partitas No. 1, 5 & 6
recorded December 2008 & April 2009
released in 2009
Murray Perahia imbues Bach's First, Fifth, and Sixth Partitas with the same mastery, care, and insight that distinguished his recordings of Nos. 2, 3, and 4. The B-flat Partita's tempos never exceed what one can comfortably dance to or sing, highlighted by the lyrically animated Sarabande and loud yet not aggressive Gigue. The E minor opening Toccata's declamatory and fugal sections emerge as an integrated, unified whole, while Perahia uses subtle accents and contrasted dynamics to bring out the Corrente's cross-rhythmic potential. He brings multi-colored, expressive variety to the Sarabande's arpeggiated chords and articulates the Tempo di Gavotta as if Glenn Gould's uncanny contrapuntal acumen and Edwin Fischer's velvet paws had morphed.
The latter description particularly befits the G major Partita's Corrente and Tempo di Minuetto, along with the other movements, each of which emerges with a distinct character. For example, the pianist's strong sense of conversational interplay justifies a leisurely tempo for the Allemande that others might have trouble sustaining. Perahia's variants in the repeats are noticeable yet discrete. In short, for modern sound and stylish aplomb, Perahia's Bach Partitas easily warrant a first choice recommendation. (Jed Distler for classicstoday.com)