Hélène Grimaud

Bach: Transcribed

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AllMusic Review by

Fitting her reputation for interpreting the keyboard repertoire in a big way, Hélène Grimaud presents her first recording of J.S. Bach's works with transcriptions by Ferruccio Busoni, Franz Liszt, and Sergei Rachmaninov, which were all intended to update the music for the modern grand piano. Because Grimaud's style is direct and robust, reminiscent of Martha Argerich, and the transcriptions are dramatically more pianistic than the originals, Bach purists should look elsewhere for more meticulous and historically informed performances of these Baroque pieces, perhaps on fortepiano or harpsichord. Grimaud's fans, however, will feel at home with her rich and resonant playing, and if the beefed-up passagework, with all its octaves, chromatic filigree, and heavy pedaling, are deemed acceptable, then this album will surely find its audience. The preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier are not transcriptions, though Grimaud's energetic and idiosyncratic playing almost makes them seem as if they were, and the Concerto No. 1 in D minor, supported by Florian Donderer and the German Chamber Philharmonic, Bremen, is delivered in a straightforward manner without embellishment or period instruments. The Busoni version of the Chaconne in D minor, Liszt's arrangement of the Prelude and Fugue in A minor, and Rachmaninov's fanciful adaptation of the Prelude in E major from the Partita No. 3 for violin seem to be the album's raison d'être, for Grimaud finds her voice in these colorful performances, and her passionate and virtuosic style is best suited to their elaborations. Deutsche Grammophon's reproduction is exceptional and well-balanced for Grimaud's sonorous playing.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 2 in C minor (WTC I/2), BWV 847 (BC L81)
1 1:31
2 1:42
Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 4 in C sharp minor (WTC I/4), BWV 849 (BC L83)
3 3:17
4 4:16
Concerto for harpsichord, strings & continuo No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052
5 7:36
6 7:09
7 7:24
Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 6 in D minor (WTC II/6), BWV 875 (BC L109)
8 1:29
9 1:44
10 14:31
Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 20 in A minor (WTC II/20), BWV 889 (BC L123)
11 3:38
12 1:42
13 9:27
Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 9 in E major (WTC II/9), BWV 878 (BC L112)
14 4:08
15 2:31
Suite from the Violin Partita in E major: Prelude, Gavotte & Gigue, transcription for piano after J. S. Bach, TN iii/1
16 3:38
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