Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bach JS - Partitas - Huguette Dreyfus, harpsichord

Bach JS - Partitas - Huguette Dreyfus, harpsichord
harpsichord | single flac, cue | no log, cover | 3 CD, 931 MB
September 20, 1990 | Denon | RapidShare

Bach published his six keyboard Partitas in 1731, when they formed the first volume of his Clavier-Ubung. Forkel, Bach's earliest biographer, remarked that the publication was much noticed at the time and that young players of his day would benefit from studying them, "so brilliant, agreeable, expressive and original are they". Forkel's judgement on this occasion was impeccable and his epithets well chosen. Harpsichord enthusiasts will have no need to be introduced to the playing of Huguette Dreyfus since she has been amongst the most prominent of French virtuosos over the past 25 years or so. She is conservative in her approach; and she is often leisurely, too. Best of all, however, is the sound of this new Denon release. I cannot find anything about that which Dreyfus plays other than that it is tuned to equal temperament. Several pages of Japanese may be withholding the clue but somehow I doubt it. Temperament is a fundamental difference in fact between this recording and those of Gilbert and Pinnock, both of whom play instruments tuned to unequal temperament. Unequal temperament, of course, makes for a greater degree of interest in sonority and in this respect Dreyfus is, perhaps, the loser.

The three players have a markedly different approach from one another where ornamentation and rhythm are concerned. Pinnock, perhaps, shows the greatest freedom in his use of ornaments whilst Dreyfus sticks the most closely to what she sees in front of her. Gilbert occupies a position somewhere between the two. Some may find Dreyfus's view of the music a little unimaginative but I must confess that I myself do not. Rhythmically she is apt to be mechanical butt like her directness and her obvious distaste for anything fussy or inventive merely for the sake of being different. Her approach strikes me as being the least complex of the three but the music seldom seems to suffer on account of that. My chief reservation concerns her comparative lack of rhythmic flexibility, but one must weigh this up against other important considerations and, in short, Dreyfus's fine technique and natural musicianship make me favourably inclined towards her set. What you go for, in the end, depends upon the order of your priorities. For sheer technical brilliance I think I would choose the Pinnock version, which sparkles with life. Gilbert, no less a technician, nevertheless offers more thoughtful and reflective accounts. Dreyfus, undoubtedly the best served by recorded sound, provides warm but definitely 'no-nonsense' readings with plenty of musical insight.--N.A.

CD Content

Partita I in B-Flat Major, BWV 825
Partita II in C Minor, BWV 826
Partita III in A Minor, BWV 827
Partita IV in D Major, BWV 828
Partita V in G Major, BWV 829
Partita I in E Minor, BWV 830



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