Bach: Partita No 4 in D major, BWV 828; Toccata in C minor, BWV 911; English Suite No 3 in G minor, BWV 808; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903; and other short pieces

Reviewed on Mon 16 May, 2016

The Fourth Partita and Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue are rich in subtle colouring, which contrasts well with the drive and rhythmic inventiveness Freire finds in the Third English Suite. The C minor Toccata benefits from his penchant for simple utterance and architectural understanding.

Like Glenn Gould and Murray Perahia (Sony), Martha Argerich (DG) or Dinu Lipatti (EMI) before him, Nelson Freire brings Bach to joyous life on a modern concert grand, rivalling any of the aforementioned artists. Freire’s survey includes original keyboard scores and arrangements, either by Bach of Marcello, or of Bach by Busoni, Alexander Siloti and Dame Myra Hess. The Fourth Partita and Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue are rich in subtle colouring, which contrasts well with the drive and rhythmic inventiveness he finds in the Third English Suite. The C minor Toccata benefits from Freire’s penchant for simple utterance and architectural understanding. The arrangements are no mere afterthoughts: Marcello’s Adagio is solemn, Busoni’s Ich ruf zu dir is deep and bell-like, Siloti’s Prelude is considered yet enchanting. Freire greets Hess’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring with the caring and soft embrace that one should give such a dear friend. The recording matches Freire’s pianism well, discretely capturing details within the whole.
–Evan Dickerson