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CD Review

Johann Sebastian Bach


  • Partita in B Flat Major, BWV 825
  • Partita in C minor, BWV 826
  • Partita in A minor, BWV 827
  • Partita in D Major, BWV 828
  • Partita in G Major, BWV 829
  • Partita in E minor, BWV 830
Igor Levit, Piano
Notes by Martin Geck
Sony 8884307630 2CDs
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Also available as an import: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan

There are an enormous number of recorded performances of these works and I doubt if there is anyone who could compare them all, so I must limit myself to what I have heard and to my personal impressions. That said, I find these to be very satisfying performances – much more so than Glenn Gould's for my taste. I also prefer them to those of Richard Goode. I grew up hearing Walter Gieseking's recording of the Partita #6, and I still like that.

Levit generally plays more slowly and deliberately than the pianists I have mentioned. His articulation is precise, so that one has no difficulty hearing simultaneous lines. His phrasing is clear, musical and well thought out and internalized. The music breathes, but does not wander.

I am particularly impressed with Levit's playing of Partita #5. It is a sheer delight and the opening Praeambulum is downright playful. And of a different section, my wife, who plays Bach for her own pleasure, and who happened to be passing through the room as I was playing this recording, said "He nailed it."

Levit has been identified as Russian-German. He also has an acclaimed recording of Beethoven's late Piano Sonatas.

Highly recommended.

Copyright © 2014, R. James Tobin