Bach’s keyboard works known as the English Suites offer a series of dance movements which, despite their name, owe more to earlier French and German models. This is the first of two recordings of the complete English Suites arranged for two guitars by the distinguished Montenegrin Guitar Duo. Transcriptions of Bach for solo guitar have been popular since the nineteenth century and the emergence of the guitar duo extends still further the potential for exciting and revelatory performances.
While Ivo Pogorelich established his reputation performing mainly Romantic repertoire, his few forays into the Baroque reveal him to be an equally engaging- if not eccentric musician here as well. In quicker movements, such as the opening Preludes of the English Suites for instance Pogorelich's rhythmic control and contrapuntal clarity are simply amazing. Slower movements likewise are handled with remarkable intensity and delicacy. Pogorelich's performances of four Scarlatti sonatas concluding the program as well are wonderfully animated and knowing.
From the irresitably forceful opening bars of the English Suite's prelude to the throbbing repeated octaves of the D minor concerto, Richter shows why many of Bach's works are ideally suited to the piano. The Bach concerto is often regarded as a student piece, or relegated to refined performances on the harpsichord. Not here – the bookend movements are as maniacal, pulsing and driving as the best of John Coltrane or Prokofiev. The CD is worth it just for those movements, but Richter's treatment of the English Suite is equally enlightening, especially the Prelude and Gavotte.
…In sum, this is a disc that's easy to recommend for its consistently engaging music and first-rate performances–but it's also a recording that you can turn way up and enjoy full-bodied, undistorted, viscerally present instrumental sound. A winner!
Every Richter fan will want to hear his performances of four of Bach's English Suites (6) taped in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow on May 20, 1991. Recorded near the end of his career, they are Richter at his most deeply affecting and deeply human. Richter was 76 when he gave these performances, but they reveal no lack of power, no technical weakness, and certainly no want of intensity. But at this point in his life and always in this repertoire, Richter has restrained his virtuosity to concentrate on Bach's linear counterpoint played with such complete independence of the fingers that every line is clear, cogent, and compelling. But more than anything, Richter's lines are voices, all singing their own lines in effortless and ineluctable ensemble with each other and thereby creating a whole infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. In these late performances, Richter is at his most lyrical, with each voice given its own supple phrasing and its own sweet tone. While being quintessentially pianistic, Richter's performance of Bach's music is essentially the sound of Richter singing. Great Hall's sound is raw and honest. ~ James Leonard, Rovi Performances
2nd recording of English Suites BWV 806-811 by G. Leonhardt. Recorded 2.-3.V. & 3.-4.IX.1984 at Doopsgezinde Gemeente Kerk, Haarlem, Holland. Without repeats.
"Compared with his new recording the earlier one is sombre, rather deliberate and superficially only, perhaps, lacking in good humour. In the intervening passage of time he seems to have cultivated a livelier approach to these Suites; they flow more naturally and he has lost some of the apparent stylistic self-consciousness which gave the impression of a certain wooden-ness in his playing."
1st recording of English Suites BWV 806-811 by Gustav Leonhardt. Recorded at Doopsgezinde Kerk, Amsterdam, Holland in September 1973. With all repeats.
The recording is splendid, and it is well worth your listening time. Just listen to the sheer energy the great Leonhardt puts out with the 1st movement of the 3rd suite. That piece alone is worth the entire disc, but all works are worth while.
This is the cover of two CDs remastered in 1997 from the 5 LPs Philips Seon 6709 500 [1974?] containing "The French and English Suites"