This recording brings together all the arrangements for harpsichord by Bach of instrumental concertos by his Italian contemporary Antonio Vivaldi, adding those of one concerto each by the brothers Alessandro and Benedetto Marcello. They are performed by Sophie Yates who has made a series of solo CDs for Chandos, many of which have won international awards. She has been described by Gramophone as ‘hugely talented’ and by BBC Music as playing ‘with exceptional poise’.
Moving from the harpsichord to the clavichord or the organ was probably easy enough for Johann Sebastian Bach. The source of the sound didn’t matter, because for the master of Leipzig, what counted were thought and intellect: the form, tonality and melodic contours ere more important than the instrument itself. And indeed, through this work of musical thought, Bach used different keyboards, prefiguring the instruments to come: the piano as a synthesis of the harpsichord, the organ and the clavichord.
Yes, Olga Kern does appear in her photographs to be quite beautiful, glamorously, gorgeously, gloriously beautiful. Try not to hold that against her because, under all her appearance of beauty, Kern is actually a great musician and the proof is in her disc of transcriptions and variations by Rachmaninov. Kern's physical beauty is matched and surpassed by her tone, her technique, and, best of all, her interpretations. Her tone is clear, deep, rich, strong, and warm. Her technique is effortless, flawless, and just about beyond belief. And her interpretations are even better.
Most of this disc is taken up with Liszt's Christmas Tree, an unusually modest suite based on Christmas carols. It also offers charming pieces by Reger, Tchaikovsky, Rebikov, and Lyapunov based on Christmas themes, and a couple of Bach transcriptions. Eteri Andjaparidze, whose first CD was a sensational Prokofiev collection, plays this music truly superb musicianship and the kind of pianistic color that has become a rarity. Her Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is the most beautiful I've heard since Dinu Lipatti's. And wait until you hear her delightful playing of Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride! It's deliciously witty and charming.
…The point is that Bach is the most indestructible of all composers, in the best sense of the term. And as with all great music the work is always greater than any one performance of it, so these wonderfully imaginative reincarnations of Bach’s originals bring with them a great deal of satisfaction. Part of the intention in every case, surely, was to realise the nature of Bach’s music in new ways through the potential offered by a great orchestra in performance. In that crucial and important way Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, along with the Chandos engineers, have triumphed…