|Review by Jan Hanford:|
This recording was released as a companion to a version with violin and harpsichord, with Mela Tenenbaum and Gerald Ranck. Each comes with a coupon to purchase the other set for $8, as an incentive for listeners to compare the different versions. I must compliment ESS.A.Y Recordings for this wonderful project, giving Bach listeners an affordable opportunity to compare two world-class performances of these works which, I feel, are some of Bach's most accessible and beautiful.
For me, this particular recording with piano is a "must have" and I've placed it as my top ranked favorite recording of these sonatas.
Originally I was attracted to this recording because these sonatas are so rarely recorded using piano rather than harpsichord. But I was also excited to discover that this is one of the most beautiful performances of these works I've ever heard. Mela Tenenbaum's performance is not only technically masterful, but expressive and tangibly emotional. Her double-stopping is outstanding; exceptionally smooth with a lovely vibrato. She sounds like she is one with the music, intellectually and emotionally. She brings powerful clarity and equally powerful emotion to these wonderful sonatas. I was simply stunned by her performance. This is J.S. Bach, after all, so one expects to be moved by the music. But Mela Tenenbaum has given us so much more than just the notes. I was as much moved by her interpretation as by the music itself. For example, her performance of the Largo of the Sonata in C Minor, BWV 1017 is simply the most beautiful performance I've heard of this work.
Richard Kapp's performance on piano is outstanding. Not just an accompanist, he brings the piano into a masterful musical partnership with the violin. In this performance on piano, the melodies and harmonies compliment each other in ways I've never heard in these works and my enthusiasm grew as I listened. I've been waiting years to hear a performance like this of these sonatas and Richard Kapp has given us an important musical treasure.
Although my personal preference is for the piano, if you have the opportunity to own both versions you will own two musical treasures.