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The Pianist Nelson Freire - 'Bach' Album: Music Box, March 21st

Monday, 28 March 2016 , ora 13.33

If you would like to vote for this cd please vote HERE

March 21st - Johann Sebastian Bach's date of birth and the European Day of Early Music, as it was instituted in 2013, for the very reason that March 21st is the anniversary of the day on which Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest of early music composers, was born.

It goes without saying that we would choose to listen to Bach's music from an album which was recently released (March 4th, 2016) by a renowned pianist, Nelson Freire, whom we have had the pleasure of seeing on the stage of the Enescu Festival in Bucharest.

A performer specialized in the music of the 19th and 20th centuries, Nelson Freire, has recorded an album with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in 2014, the year of his 70th anniversary; in fact, across his long career, this was the first time that he took on such a repertoire for a recording.

The album is over 80 minutes long - during a Music Box edition we will have the opportunity to listen to a selection of works from this album; among the selected works you will find the Partita No. 4, English Suite No. 3, Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, Toccata in C minor, the second part of the concerto arranged by Bach after the Oboe Concerto of Alessandro Marcello and several other arrangements for piano of choral preludes.

The album was also included in the campaign Vote for the classical album of the year 2016; we invite you to visit this site, because your vote will decide which album will become the classical music album of 2016 in Romania.

Bach and the pianists

Recording the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is a difficult undertaking for a pianist, a conclusion which can easily be drawn by anyone who looks at the number of pianists who have recorded the partitas by Johann Sebastian Bach in the last years: Murray Perahia in 2008 and 2009, Andras Schiff in 2009, Igor Levitt in 2014. It is very difficult because of the emphasis placed on interpreting it in an authentic style, specific to early music - and the piano is definitely not an instrument of early music. It is difficult because it is very hard to persuade a major record label that Bach is still saleable today. And it is difficult because Bach music is itself difficult. From technique to agogics and dynamics, to the composition on the whole, everything is difficult. The music of Bach requires an impeccable construction of all melodic lines particularly in the fugato moments; the music of Bach requires complete mastery of rhythm, the only element of order when the melodic lines converge. It is, therefore, difficult to perform the music of Bach: even for a pianist as great as Nelson Freire, who, admittedly, is not a specialist in the music of Bach, there are also moments when he seems that he does not have all of these aspects entirely under control. This was the case for the final part of the Partita no. 4 and the beginning of the English Suite No. 3.

The best performances given by Nelson Freire on this album proposed by Decca record label are those of the opuses that are found at the end of the album: Bach's transcription of the famous second part of the Oboe Concerto by Alessandro Marcello and the choral preludes, a fact that was also noted by the international critics who have reviewed this album. This might be because Nelson Freire's experience with the music of the 19th and 20th century shines best here - the transcriptions are made by a well-known pianist and composer of that period, Ferruccio Busoni.

Whether it was successful or not, Nelson Freire's initiative to record Bach's music for the first time in the year of his 70th anniversary is entirely commendable. Ultimately, no great musician goes without his daily dose of Bach - just to keep up, as a musician. And in a world where sensationalism and false brilliance are trending, such an initiative must be applauded by all lovers of good music. Because we all do, in fact, need our daily dose of Bach…

The Bach album signed by Nelson Freire can be heard on Radio Romania Music on Monday, March 21st, at 19.00, and once again on Sunday, March 27th, at 13.05, and has been included in the campaign Vote for the classical album of the year 2016.

Cristina Comandașu
Translated by Elena Gherca
MTTLC, the University of Bucharest