Pianist Craig Sheppard's uninterrupted recital of J.S. Bach's Two-Part Inventions, BWV 772-786, and the Three-Part Sinfonias, BWV 787-801, is a striking achievement, but it likely would have been so even if there had been an intermission. Because these pieces are short and concise -- some of Bach's most concentrated keyboard music is contained here -- it is not much of a challenge to sit through both sets; the entire performance lasts just over three quarters of an hour, which might seem like a minor accomplishment when compared with much longer and more physically demanding concerts. But psychologically, Sheppard's performance seems to take longer than the actual time marked because his interpretations are carefully considered, imaginatively articulated, and wide-ranging in mood; from the cheerful opening Invention in C major to the grief-stricken Sinfonia in F minor, then on to a brilliant conclusion with the Sinfonia in B minor, it feels as if a considerable distance has been traveled. Along the way, Sheppard displays a great variety of expressions and performance styles, which, in their spontaneity and musicality, may remind one of Glenn Gould's recording of these pieces for Columbia. Not that Sheppard has borrowed any of that legendary pianist's ideas, but he has certainly tapped into his ethos and delivered original readings that are quite as lively and ingenious and as intellectually stimulating as they are emotionally appealing. Sheppard played this recital on April 27, 2006, at the Meany Theater in Seattle, but except for the enthusiastic applause at the end, the clean sound of this recording is fine enough to pass for studio quality.
Johann Sebastian Bach: Aufrichtige Anleitung Review
by Blair Sanderson