Sergey Schepkin

Bach: The Six Partitas

(CD - Steinway & Sons #STNS 30062)

Review by

"The Russians were never very keen on Bach," said Russian violinist Ilya Gringolts (himself a fine Bach violinist). "Their (well, our!) Bach has a tendency to sound a bit on the never-ending side -- a lot of melodic lines, shapeless." Russian-American pianist Sergey Schepkin seems ready to erase this perception with a beautifully recorded series of Bach favorites on the U.S. Steinway & Sons label. His technical skills, always impressive, are in full display on this double album of partitas, with a variety of articulation in the fast movements that makes them seem more "pianistic" than they really are: Schepkin has drawn comparisons to Glenn Gould, and he's done it without using a lot of pedal. The slow movements, with a good deal of ornamentation and rhythmic freedom, are perhaps the most characteristic; sample one of the sarabandes, perhaps that of the Partita No. 1 in B flat major, BWV 825, for a taste. Schepkin in the past has seemed remote, but here he is personal, changeable, and it is AndrĂ¡s Schiff, perhaps his major competition in this field, who seems to have a harder edge. In general, Schepkin steers far from the dance origin of these pieces. Schepkin's readings may make different impressions on different listeners, but these are major statements in the catalog of Bach recordings on the piano.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Partita I in B flat major, BWV 825
1 01:47 Amazon
2 03:20 Amazon
3 02:44 Amazon
4 04:39 Amazon
5 01:04 Amazon
6 01:03 Amazon
7 01:55 Amazon
Partita II in C minor, BWV 826
8 04:10 Amazon
9 03:50 Amazon
10 02:24 Amazon
11 02:58 Amazon
12 01:23 Amazon
13 03:13 Amazon
Partita III in A minor, BWV 827
14 01:43 Amazon
15 03:22 Amazon
16 02:44 Amazon
17 03:17 Amazon
18 01:58 Amazon
19 01:03 Amazon
20 03:03 Amazon
Partita II [Embellished]
21 04:20 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Partita IV in D major, BWV 828
1 05:35 Amazon
2 08:54 Amazon
3 03:40 Amazon
4 01:58 Amazon
5 05:22 Amazon
6 01:15 Amazon
7 03:12 Amazon
Partita V in G major, BWV 829
8 01:58 Amazon
9 04:17 Amazon
10 01:34 Amazon
11 03:45 Amazon
12 01:33 Amazon
13 01:21 Amazon
14 03:33 Amazon
Partita VI in E minor, BWV 830
15 07:27 Amazon
16 03:32 Amazon
17 04:37 Amazon
18 01:13 Amazon
19 05:52 Amazon
20 01:43 Amazon
21 05:59 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick