Miguel Muelle writes concerning Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier:
>When I first heard Barenboim's Book I I heard the pieces in ways
>I never had before, and truly enjoyed them. He brings out emphases
>and intertwining that others don't.
It's been at least a few weeks since I last listened to Barenboim's Book
I, but I agree with Miguel that Barenboim's interpretations have some
relatively unique architectural features. However, I feel that these
features diminish the music such as his penchant for very aggressive
bass lines at one moment followed by moments where the bass line disappears.
Yet, I do wish I had enjoyed the set since it's my money at work.
>Yes, there are times when I almost think I'm hearing Chopin -- but what's
>so bad about that?
I suppose this will always be an issue among listeners. If one loves
the music of both Chopin and Bach, then a Bach piece played in a Chopinesque
manner should be a winner. But I can't subscribe to that premise. When
I listen to Bach, I don't want to hear Chopin. When I listen to Scriabin,
I don't want to hear Chopin or Rachmaninov. Each composer has his/her
own sound world; I want to hear that sound world.
Of course, we can reasonably argue over the appropriate sound world.
Quite a few months ago, both Steve Schwartz and I reviewed on this board
a set of Bach's French Suites played by harpsichordist David Cates on
the Music & Arts label. I found the performances the best on the market;
Steve considered them overly romanticized. I didn't and still can't see
how Steve came to his conclusions; it was as if we had listened to
different performances. Which one of us has the true insight into Bach's
sound world - only Steve, only me, both of us, none of us? Questions
that can't really be answered except by Bach, and he's not talking.
>It's still Bach, solo Dei gratia!
This is where Miguel and I greatly differ. I remember a recording of
the Goldberg Variations directed by Labadie on Dorian where many of the
variations sounded like they came from a Hollywood orchestra focusing
on entertainment for the masses. The notes came from Bach, but everything
else was manufactured and adulterated. For what it's worth, I'd take
Barenboim over Labadie every time.
Barenboim has recorded some wonderful Beethoven, Mozart, and the music
of Latin American composers, but neither Bach nor Chopin finds the pianist
in his comfort zone which might help explain why he rarely recorded
either composer's music.
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