Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz (pronunciation perilous for non-Poles, but try "BLEH-hotch") made his name as a young Chopin specialist, but has often featured Bach's Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971, in concert. The Bach-Chopin connection is one that would have made perfect sense to Chopin himself, and here Blechacz expands it to full program length, with impressive results indeed. He may remind you of Dinu Lipatti, another Eastern European Chopin player whose Bach was haunting: sample the gentle and yet awesomely clear first movement of the Partita No. 1 in B flat major, BWV 825. Blechacz's Italian Concerto has great forward urgency without ever breaking tempo. The program has an intelligent structure of its own, placing the rather rare Four Duets, BWV 802-805 -- essentially expanded two-part inventions -- at the center: the music seems to enter a deeper chromatic realm and then slowly depart from it with another partita, and finally, with the arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Dame Myra Hess, another pianist whom Blechacz may bring to mind. If it seems wrong to bring up these big names, well, just give the album a listen. With this release Blechacz definitively transcends young phenom status. The metal-oriented Friedrich-Ebert-Halle arena in Ludwigshafen is a bit large and impersonal for what Blechacz is trying to do here, although everything's clear.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Italian Concerto in F major BWV 971 [Clavier-Übung Part II]|
|Partita No. 1 in B flat major BWV 825 [Clavier-Übung Part 1]|
|Fantasia and Fugue in A minor BWV 944|
|Partita No. 3 in A minor BWV 827 [Clavier-Übung Part I]|
|Chorale from Cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben BWV 147|