Rarely do you find a heading longer than the review. Even that
has been reduced to a bare minimum, each work including in brackets the arranger
and artist(s) that I hope is self-explanatory. The disc is one for the curious
who seeks to move away from the real Bach to a new version devised by pianists
for their pleasure. Certainly if you sample any of the first three tracks you
will be hooked, the two piano arrangement by Victor Babin of the Organ Sonata
so successful you could well imagine it to be an original score. It receives
a sprightly and joyous performance, which is not always the case as we progress
through the disc, Edwin Fischer's 'St. Anne' Prelude and Fugue so dour as to
become boring. The transcriptions cover the literal to the extremes of Percy
Grainger's loving "ramble" through Sheep May Safely Graze.
But it is tack 14 - the Prelude in G minor - which will really make you sit
up and take notice. It comes from the Canadian pianist, Ellen Ballon, who gives
a warts and all performance that sizzles with vitality. It only makes Wilhelm
Kempff a couple of tracks later sound so old and stodgy. The recordings stretch
from 1930 to 1950 and have been so beautifully restored that the feeling of
a time gap is largely diminished, while the volume levels have been set so that
you can pass from one track to the next without leaping for the volume control.
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