Classical CD Reviews

“Bach Crossings” = Bach Transcriptions for Piano Four Hands by KURTAG, GLEICHAUF, and REGER – Stephanie Ho & Saar Ahuvia, pianos – New Focus

Delightfully anachronistic and idiomatically ear-pleasing all at once.

Published on August 8, 2013

“Bach Crossings” = Bach Transcriptions for Piano Four Hands by KURTAG, GLEICHAUF, and REGER – Stephanie Ho & Saar Ahuvia, pianos – New Focus Recordings  FCR123, 39:37 ***½:

Two of these pieces are arranged by Gleichauf, one by Max Reger, and the rest by Gyorgy Kurtág. In his piano transcriptions of music from the cantatas and organ works of J.S. Bach, Kurtág engages the music of Bach with persuasiveness and a controlled sense of voicing that is simply not found among other such arrangements. I like the recording very much—natural piano sound, soft, vibrant, and played with a lot of style. The two performers are both resident at the Peabody Conservatory and have been exploring many of the wider regions of the two-piano repertory.

The pieces, mostly chorale preludes, are stunningly rendered and beautifully conceived. I have seldom heard such fine arrangements, hinting at the true Baroque world that is Bach while at the same time peppering the music with a dose of modern sensibility that soothes the soul in a remarkable way. The album has its name because of the number of hand crossings that the performers have to negotiate during the playing of many of these works. I can’t imagine that anyone, Bach purist or modernist, would object to such persuasive playing. One thing though—the short timing is irritating, and at full price a detriment to my giving it four stars—40 minutes in my book is not acceptable, but I certainly can recommend this recording on its other merits.

TrackList:

1 Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit_ Sonatine, BWV 106 
2 Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599  
3 Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr, BWV 711 
4 Dies sind die heil’genzehn Gebot’, BWV 635
5 Pastorale in F Major, BWV 590 
6 Herr Christ, der ein’ge Gottes-Sohn, BWV 601 
7 Aus tiefer Not schrei ic zu dir, BWV 687
8 Gott, durch deine Güte, BWV 600
9 Christe, du Lamm Gottes, BWV 619
10 Alle Menschen müssen sterben, BWV 643
11 Das Alte Jahr vergangen ist, BWV 614
12 Gavottes I & II from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068
13 O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig, BWV deest
14 Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland, BWV 599
15 Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 545
16 FRESCOBALDI: Corrente IV
17 FRESCOBALDI: Corrente III

—Steven Ritter




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