02 Ashkenazy Bach English Suites jpegBach – English Suites 1-3
Vladimir Ashkenazy
Decca (deccaclassics.com/en)

Musicians, most especially those who perform or record within a tradition that has a crowded and storied line of artistic interpreters of seminal performances, often stand on the shoulders of those who came before them. This can be in order to raise themselves to a heightened vantage point from which to spot new insights and perspectives. Or it can be in order to tramp down those who went before, in an attempt to assert their own dominance and singularity of artistic approach. And most certainly, when performing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach on solo piano it would be virtually impossible to avoid the supreme influence and shadow cast by Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. 

For the Russian-born highly fêted pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, who has been performing and recording the music of Bach since 1965 (arguably living and working through the entire period of Gould’s dominance), his approach to Bach evidences, in his own words, a “different concept” than that of Gould. How lucky then are we to now have a newly released double CD on Decca Records that combines Ashkenazy’s latest recording of Bach’s English Suites 1-3 with his first recording from 1965 of Bach’s Concerto in D Minor. Not only does the music sparkle with a straightforward, didactic approach to the Baroque master that brings forth all of the beauty and detail of the original compositions without the idiosyncratic flourishes for which Gould was both reviled and revered, but there is bravery in this release as it shows just how much Ashkenazy’s own development as a Bach interpreter and world-class performer has matured, developed and even changed over the years.

Pin It
Back to top