Vladimir Ashkenazy

Bach: 6 Partitas

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Vladimir Ashkenazy returns to Bach four years after recording the complete Well-Tempered Clavier and two years after announcing his retirement from public piano performance. It's nice to say that although he doesn't feel secure enough to play in public, these partitas don't show any insecurities. There are minor inconsistencies in articulation, phrasing, and ornamentation. He is conscious of the need for a certain touch when playing Bach on a modern grand. In some spots -- typically in the courantes and gigues -- that extra light touch is combined with a shortness that may be too sharp for some listeners. There are also spots where he adds more weight in the bass than is needed to bring out the line or extra weight in the fingers, making his attack harder than it needs to be. And there are moments in slower movements where he seems to forget himself and indulges a bit in profundity. However, for the most part, Ashkenazy's playing is unforced. The energy is still present, and it sounds as if he's enjoying himself, which makes for a generally satisfying, and at times even infectious, performance of these works. It's especially recommended for those who are new to Bach's partitas or Baroque, non-organ keyboard music in general.

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