DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | A Bach Prescription For Choosy, Stressed Out Ears

By Norman Lebrecht on May 18, 2018

Photo: Annie Spratt
Photo: Annie Spratt

J S Bach: Goldberg Variations/Sonatas and Partitas (Delphian/Navona)

★★★★★/★★ (each out of five)

In times of stress, I reach for Bach in the raw, one instrument, one pair of hands. I’m choosy who I listen to when the nerves are frayed. The immortal interpretations – Gould in the Goldbergs, Milstein in the Sonatas and Partitas — are too profound, too perfect, to afford prompt and gentle relief. Two new releases are just what the soul doctor ordered.

Peter Hill is an English pianist, a Messaien expert who studied with Nadia Boulander and taught at the University of Sheffield. I have come across him on record and radio, never in the concert hall. His approach to Bach is unfussy, the notes as they were written, played without dynamic extremes on a modern Steinway D in a good acoustic at Cardiff University.

The no-frills Hill is hypnotic, never soporific. The ear is riveted to what he does with ten fingers and quivers at what he might do next. This is music at its most organic. It goes straight into my emergency kit.

Thomas Bowes is an English violinist who has played concertos with the London orchestras and famed solos on Hollywood soundtracks. On a Bach pilgrimage around British churches, he plays a 1659 Amati in environments for which these sonatas and partitas were clearly intended. His pristine recording venue at Abbey Road is just a tad sterile.

Bowes calls the set ‘a journey … for a soul in crisis’, an overlay of interpretation that brings me, from time to time, up against an excessively personal expression, too swift a contrast of ff and pp, too interventionist an approach. This is a pick-and-choose set. I liked the second sonata best of all. Others will respond differently. That’s the wonder of Bach — he’s all things to all ears, for the best of times and the worst.

J S Bach: Goldberg Variations (Peter Hill/Delphian) is available from amazon.ca and iTunes.

J S Bach: Sonatas and Partitas (Thomas Bowes/Navona) is available from amazon.ca.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Makes Handel's Messiah Shimmer With The TSO

By Arthur Kaptainis on December 18, 2018

Conductor Johannes Debus, four strong soloists, and a responsive TSO were great, but it was the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir under David Fallis that made this Handel's Messiah truly special.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | Amadeus Choir Announces New Artistic Director

By Michael Vincent on December 21, 2018

The Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto has appointed Kathleen Allan to the position of Artistic Director and Conductor, effective July 1, 2019.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

IN MEMORIAM | Legendary Canadian Music Critic Claude Gingras Has Died

By Caroline Rodgers on December 30, 2018

Caroline Rodgers shares her personal memories of one of the most important music critics in Canadian history, Claude Gingras.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.