Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2009. My lists for the previous years: 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.
# 6 - New Release
Bach, "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" - Chorales, Preludes & Fugues, Edna Stern, Zig Zag 90104
J.S.Bach, "Nun komm…",
Great music intelligently put together and terrifically played; the latest Bach recording on the ZigZag Territories label was always assured a spot among my favorite recordings of this year. Edna Stern sends three Prelude & Fugue pairs into the race, preceded by a transcribed Bach chorale each (one of these four Chorale/Prelude packages comes with Brahms’ Bach-like op.122 no.5, instead), and in doing so lifts her CD well above the pack of Bach-on-the-Piano releases and recitals. “Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland” starts with the eponymous chorale (BWV 659) in Busoni’s transcription. Stern’s idea is treating Bach as a vocal and orchestral composer which, apart from justification for playing harpsichord works on the piano (as if any was still—or again—necessary), frees her to explore all the advantages of the piano’s range of shades and colors, rather than treating it ‘harpsichordesque’. Might as well, when the result is Bach in such luxuriant sound, indulgent in beauty, yet never fussy. (WETA review)
# 6 - Reissue
Bach, Well Tempered Clavier, Books I & II, Sviatoslav Richter, Sony
J.S.Bach, WTC, Book I,
J.S.Bach, WTC, Book II,
I wonder, too, whether we would find these readings, fabulously old-fashioned though they are, quite so amazing if it were not Richter playing them, but a complete unknown. I should hope I still did, because alongside Tatyana Nikolayeva (Victor) and Mieczyslaw Horszowski (only Book I, Vanguard Classics) these are the Well Tempered recordings of that particular pianistic type I cherish the most. A terrific antidote to the very different modern piano variants of Hewitt or Schiff, for example.