As the artist who has recorded longest with the BIS label, Hans Fagius has an impressive repertoire that includes organ music of several eras. Fagius' early organ lessons were with Nils Eriksson and Bengt Berg. His 1974 soloist's diploma from the Stockholm's Royal College of Music was earned under Alf Linder. That same year, he made his public debut in Stockholm. He spent the following year in Paris, doing private study with Maurice Duruflé.
Originally recorded for the small Music Masters label in the early '90s, this set of Bach's keyboard concertos was among a series of choice Music Masters items reissued by Nimbus late in the first decade of the 21st century. The Russians have never been known for Bach, but this is a solid traversal that can be recommended to anyone wanting to hear these concertos on a piano accompanied by modern instruments. Despite these forces, there is a good deal of influence from the British historical-instrument movement apparent here; the crisp string playing avoids any hint of Romantic sheen, and Feltsman is very subtle in his introduction of purely pianistic elements. The long notes in the slow movements tend to be just a bit more extended than would be possible on a harpsichord, and Feltsman thus creates a smooth, pearly texture that's quite lyrical. In several of the finales he pushes the tempo to high speeds, creating an entirely different effect on a piano that the music would have on a harpsichord.
This disc continues Thomas Demenga's project of juxtaposing Bach cello suites with contemporary compositions—by Elliott Carter (12/90), Heinz Holliger, and now Sandor Veress, whose music we can hear growing out of, and away from, its neo-classical roots in Bach's polyphony.
This is a delightful, inventive, witty, charming, enchanting, inspiring disc. In the Verbruggen disc, only four of the six sonatas appear together, plus one other trio sonata (BWV 1031). Perhaps Ms. Verbruggen thought that BWV 526 and 528 did not translate well to the recorder. In any event, the recorder and the harpsichord are outstanding here, as is the recording quality. Highest recommendation.
One of the piano's most lyrical contemporary proponents, Murray Perahia was born in New York City. After first sitting down at the piano at the age of four, he entered Mannes College at 17, later graduating with degrees in conducting and composition. At the same time, Perahia spent his summers in Marlboro, Vermont, collaborating with musicians including Rudolf Serkin, Pablo Casals and the members of the Budapest Quartet; he also studied with Mieczyslaw Horszowski. Upon winning the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1972, Perahia gave his first concert at the Aldeburgh Festival a year later, where he met and worked with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, subsequently accompanying the latter in many lieder recitals. Perahia became co-artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival in 1981, a position he held for eight years; his recordings include the complete concertos of Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin.
Bach’s Goldberg Variations have played a central role in harpsichordist Pierre Hantai’s musical life since his early youth. At 28 he recorded the work for the Opus 111 label (now available on Naïve), a highly acclaimed release that stands among the work’s choice versions. Over the past 11 years Hantai evidently has rethought and refined his interpretation, as revealed in this 2003 remake. There’s greater rhythmic freedom and variety of articulation, plus a more subjective approach to ornaments and agogics, especially in the repeats (he observes all but those in Variation 15, 25, and the Aria Da Capo; the 1992 recording honors all repeats save for Variation 25). Variations previously characterized through Hantai’s seamless legato technique (Nos. 3, 6, 8, 11, 17, and 18, for example) are further enlivened by detaché finger strokes and more inflected phrasings. The latter infuse Variations 7, 10, and 16 with greater resilience and rhythmic verve than their earlier counterparts.