András Schiff

Johann Sebastian Bach: Six Partitas

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András Schiff has recorded Bach's six partitas twice, first for Decca in 1985 and then for ECM in 2009, and both are superlative in their own ways. Schiff was then and is now a pianist possessing a fluent technique, an agile tone, and a sense of phrasing that makes counterpoint sing, but his interpretations of the Partitas have changed over 25 years. His later performances are more pointed and more poised, thoughtful, and ardent than his earlier one, but they are also less mellow and much less pedaled, with no less drive, but perhaps less lyricism. Whether Schiff's earlier or later performance appeals more will be a matter of personal taste. Less significant, perhaps, but still striking, is the difference in the quality of the sound. Decca's early digital sound, like its late stereo sound, was rich, deep, detailed, and atmospheric. ECM's late digital sound, like its early digital sound, is extremely clear and enormously immediate. With Decca, one is sitting a few rows in front of the pianist. With ECM, one is sitting on the bench with the pianist.

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