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David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2007

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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