Music Voice

One is astounded, moved, when one realizes that some of the masterpieces that Johann Sebastian Bach composed for his beloved keyboard instruments were considered simple practice-works then, mere “exercises”, several of which were later used by his sons and his students to practice on the harpsichord and organ. Just to be clear, the great composer included (among other works) in these “exercises” gems such as the Six Partitas for Harpsichord, BWV 825-830, the Italian Concerto, BWV 971, several Chorale Preludes and, above all, the wonderful Goldberg Variations – works which are true pillars of Western musical art. These inescapable compositions became like bridges attached to the future, which allowed the composers who came after him to take inspiration from the tonal system theorized and practiced by the genius of Eisenach, bringing it to levels of sublime beauty. It goes without saying that these writings represent a fundamental bastion for those performers who approach Bach’s music, with the aim not only just to bring them to life but also hoping to catch a glimpse and grasp, in reading them, that unfathomable mystery that lies in them, a mystery imbued with immeasurable formal perfection, Gothic cathedrals with their admirable architectural structures rising into the sky, because to listen to Bach also means turning your eyes on high, to contemplate that infinite which is inherent in his music.

The German pianist Burkard Schliessmann has devoted two discs to the compositions of Bach the first containing the Goldberg Variations (Bayer Records) and the second (Divine Art Records) that includes the Partita no. 2 in C minor, the Italian Concerto, the Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, the Fantasy, Adagio and Fugue in C minor and the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor.

This is a major interpretative effort through which the Bavarian pianist wanted to outline his approach to Bach, also through a series of theoretical speculations, set out in detail in the accompanying booklet to the discs. As for his interpretation, there is no doubt that, although it originates from those who were the originators of modern approaches to Bach, for example Rosalyn Tureck and Glenn Gould, Burkard Schliessmann wanted to offer a personal reading altogether objective and highly “rational ” avoiding the easy recall of pseudo-romanticism – the siren of a certain pianism – and concentrating instead on the essence of the score itself, trying to create a performance in which this formal essence was always compared to a particular stylistic proportion, that is to enhance the shape and flow of the music because through it we can come to see and materialize the mystery of which we have mentioned before. Thus the discs feature a piano sound that never abandons the origin of the compositions as works for harpsichord (or, better yet, clavichord), since in the respect of the forms, proportions and the compositional logic not only can you find God, as Bach often said, but also the magic of the great composer.

The recorded sound is nothing short of excellent, giving us the ability to fully enjoy the wonder of the timbre of the Steinway D-274, whose crystallinity appears fleetingly to recall the sound of those harpsichord and clavichord instruments for which Bach originally wrote these works.

Artistic quality : 5/5
Technical quality: 5/5

—Andrea Bedetti