Mayumi Hirasaki / Christine Schornsheim

Bach in romantischer Manier

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It's no revelation that transcriptions and arrangements have been popular at one level or another throughout much of music history. This was especially the case in the mid-1800s when composers would rework individual movements of larger works for various combinations of instruments. As she states in her liner notes, Mayumi Hirasaki asserts that this was to make the pieces more fashionable for the trends of the time. Her Genuin album Bach in romantischer Manier includes several such reworkings of movements of the Bach solo sonatas and partitas and the F major Keyboard Sonata scored by Mendelssohn, Ressel, and Schumann. For historical purposes, these arrangements are of course rather interesting. They give listeners a glimpse of how Bach was perceived and enjoyed at the time. But listeners must also ask themselves if performance of these arrangements serve a purpose beyond historical intrigue; modern listeners are certainly capable of enjoying Bach's original masterworks without the watering down that the arrangements with piano bring. For her own part, Hirasaki's playing is clean, bright, and nicely in tune and given the literature that she's playing, is appropriately interpreted more in the style of Mendelssohn and Schumann than Bach. It would be interesting, however, to hear Hirasaki play Bach's original, intended works for comparison.

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