Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: Six French Suites

Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: Six French Suites

Article excerpt

JS Bach

Six French Suites, BWV812-817. Fantasias and Fugues--'Chromatic', BWV903, BWV904 (two recordings)

Sergey Schepkin pf

Steinway & Sons (M) (2) STNS30046 (113' * DDD)

Writing in his accompanying essay, Russian-American pianist Sergey Schepkin leaves you in no doubt why Bach is at the heart of his repertoire. And his performances of the six French Suites, two differing takes on the A minor Fantasia and Fugue and the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue are of an exemplary precision and lucidity. Using the Barenreiter edition of the Suites, his playing is at first relatively austere, allowing for rich embellishments on the repeats. Again, he argues sensibly that to place graceful, intimate if 'sometimes humorous Minuets' after fast-paced and exhilarating Gigues, as in some editions, savours of anti-climax.

Such telling scholarship is complemented by playing devoid of egocentricity, elaborate gesturing and agogic accentuation, in which everything is made seamless and natural, though with no loss of character. Bach is always allowed his own voice, a far cry from the justly celebrated Bach of Gould or Tureck, where touches of genius are qualified by eccentricity (Gould) and pedantry (Tureck). …

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