Coming as it does after his magnificent recordings of the Goldberg Variations (1991), the six Partitas (2000), and the First Book of the Well-Tempered Clavier (2007), it is no surprise that Andrew Rangell's 2008 recording of Bach's six French Suites is equally impressive. Rangell's soulful intellect, wit, and impeccable technique create a huge variety of color, texture, and mood within the standard mix of menuets, gigues, courantes, and sarabandes. One might have preferred Schiff's effortless lyricism or Gould's athletic virtuosity, but after hearing Rangell's soulful readings, it will be difficult to remain content with Schiff and Gould.
Perhaps more significantly, good as his Bach is, Rangell's Schoenberg is even better. His manifest virtuosity peels back the layers of what can sometimes be daunting modernism and reveals a surprisingly witty and supremely musical rendition of the Suite for Solo Piano. Listeners who dislike twelve tone music may still find it difficult to accept here, but anyone willing to give it half a chance is likely to find Rangell's performance wonderfully satisfying. The sound is both clear and warm.