|Comments:||Bradley Lehman said: |
Most of these pieces are rarely recorded on piano. Richter underplays the dramatic qualities of the music in favor of an objective, undifferentiated literal presentation of the notes. He shows either a thorough misunderstanding or thorough disregard of Baroque principles of phrasing, articulation, gesture, rhetoric, ornamentation, and notational conventions. His treatment of rhythm in the violin sonata arrangement is particularly wooden and unimaginative, and phrases are run together with no sense of vocal breathing space. It also sounds nothing like the physical motions of violin bowing.
Despite all those caveats (which some may consider virtues), this is obviously some highly polished piano playing: graceful, effortlessly flowing, relaxed, gentle, and beatifically clueless. These are intimate performances with beautifully controlled tone, evenly-weighted fingerwork, few dynamic contrasts, no eccentricities, and no surprises. The tempos are steady except for a few rushed moments in the Italian Concerto, and the articulation is almost always a neutral legato. Richter is forthright in playing exactly what he sees on the page, and leaves everything else to the listener's imagination.
This disc will probably appeal to listeners who believe Bach's music needs only a straightforward reading to make its points. To those who expect more from Bach performance than a cleanly controlled surface sound, this recording will seem merely pretty and directionless.