Best Bach Pianist

Posted by: TomJamesMcmahon

Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 09:43 AM

So who do we think the best Bach pianist is?
But for these works:
Goldberg
Well-Tempered
Art of Fugue
Just came across Pierre Laurent-Aimards Art of Fugue and very impressed.
What do people think and why?
Posted by: Jolteon

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 09:58 AM

Glenn Gould.

Why?

Because Glenn Gould.
Posted by: Hermanberntzen

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 10:06 AM

Glenn Gould for me. My favorite pianist to. Glenn Gould is the pianist which keeps me playing the piano. As a muscian Glenn Gould did something new, werent as booring as many other pianists. If Bach had heard hes recordings he would call hes BWV.988 "The Gouldberg Variations" im sure.
Posted by: ClsscLib

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 10:16 AM

I'm also very impressed by every Gould Bach recording I've heard. I could listen to him forever.

That's not to say that there aren't other great recordings, and I'm sure there are many fine ones of which I'm not even aware.
Posted by: moleskincrusher

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 10:52 AM

Apart from Gould, may I recommend:

for WTK, Tureck -- but only her BBC studio broadcast.
for AOF, Koroliov.
for Goldbergs, I don't prefer any piano version to Gould's final one, but my favorite Goldbergs is the Sitkovetsky adaptation for string trio, but only in the recording by Triskelion, a Canadian group. Incomparably witty and poetic, and no bow slashing.

My favorite piano recordings of Bach are of Carl Seeman performing the Six Partitas and Gyorgy Sandor playing transcriptions.
Posted by: AldenH

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 12:48 PM

If you can get past the smug perfection and incessant ornamentation, Schiff's Bach is a delight. The range of colors and contrasts he gets is truly astounding - the exact opposite of Gould's equally incredible x-ray vision contrapuntal clarity.

Sokolov's Art of Fugue is absolutely magnificent, probably the finest single non-Gould Bach recording I've ever heard. Stylistically he occupies the middle ground between Gould and Schiff, and yet his idiomatic view of Bach on the piano is entirely his own.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 01:06 PM

Originally Posted By: AldenH
If you can get past the smug perfection...

Thanks Alden, that was worth a nice morning chuckle.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 01:09 PM

"Best" in what sense .... ?
Posted by: GeorgeB

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 01:12 PM

I hate Gould.

Hewitt or Tureck for me
Posted by: Hermanberntzen

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 01:16 PM

Whats wrong with Glenn Gould?
Best in youre personal taste i think BruceD. I hope you know what pianists you like?..
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 02:12 PM

Originally Posted By: AldenH
If you can get past the smug perfection and incessant ornamentation, Schiff's Bach is a delight. The range of colors and contrasts he gets is truly astounding - the exact opposite of Gould's equally incredible x-ray vision contrapuntal clarity.


Schiff will perform both books of the WTC at Disney Hall in October, and I'm looking forward to that.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 03:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Hermanberntzen
Whats wrong with Glenn Gould?
Best in youre personal taste i think BruceD. I hope you know what pianists you like?..


Of course I know what pianists I like. There is, however, no best for my taste in Bach or any other composer, as every good pianist has something to offer that I can enjoy and appreciate.

Regards,
Posted by: TomJamesMcmahon

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 05:01 PM

Alright Bruce "Favorite" then, strongest interpretation in your opinion. Recording you get the most out of.
I like Gould a lot but I do find some of his Well Tempered a little dull- I'm working on the Fudue in F from book 2 and he plays it far too harpsichord like for me.
Posted by: square-39

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 06:07 PM

Gould cannot be the best. Although he certainly plays Bach's Goldberg Variations very well, he never plays the repeats as Bach wrote them!
Posted by: asthecrowflies

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 06:34 PM

Agree that Gould WTC leaves something to be desired. It almost comes across as disdainful for certain pieces (e.g. Book 2 Eb Prelude). I think I prefer Richter and Tureck... Tureck probably being the most musical... if only the recording was better quality.

Of course, Martha plays some of the best Bach ever. Not sure she would have ever had the temperament to play Goldberg with her aversion to monolithic solo pieces, but I treasure her Bach recording more than almost every other Bach recording, perhaps save Casals' Suites & both Gouldbergs.
Posted by: jnod

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/01/12 11:14 PM

Tureck for the Partitas (1949-50 recordings). I think these are unequalled. I like Gould as well though, having spent 30 years or so as a complete groupie I've learned that he was not 100% flawless in recent years. Still listen to him though.
Posted by: RichterForever

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 01:37 AM

Murray Perahia, hands down winner for me.
Posted by: Hermanberntzen

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 01:47 AM

I dont see the problem why he dont play it like Bach wrote it? Its the same point as why should you record another Bach Concerto if its gonna sound like any of the others? This Gould was real clever.
Posted by: stores

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 04:12 AM

Originally Posted By: Hermanberntzen
This Gould was real clever.


He was, of course. Not only clever, but quite the genius. That doesn't, however, make him a great pianist (though he was, in many ways). It is too bad that he let himself get in the way so often and chose to pervert the music of so many composers. His Bach recordings are the reason we know of him and they are certainly ones that should be heard (notice I didn't say to LISTEN to them), but not aped. His ability to play counterpoint is something envied by many pianists and rarely reproduced at such a high level, but were it not for this extraordinary thing he would have been quite average.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 07:20 AM

Andrea Bacchetti's Bach is the best I've heard in recent years. Unless you're allergic to profuse ornamentation....
Posted by: Jazz+

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 10:19 AM


Rosalyn Tureck

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6hSC8O0LvM
Posted by: timmyab

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 11:00 AM

I listen mainly to Schiff, Richter, Gulda and Fellner.
I wouldn't want to choose just one but if push came to shove I think Fellner is closest to my heart.I can't wait for him to record book two.
Posted by: Frito

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 01:41 PM

Andras Schiff. Hands down.
Posted by: AnonymousInvention

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 01:58 PM

Glenn Gould
Posted by: Entheo

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/02/12 10:43 PM

Originally Posted By: RichterForever
Murray Perahia, hands down winner for me.


yes, ditto; i quite agree. a pianist must surrender to bach, not the other way around.
Posted by: slava_richter

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/03/12 11:27 AM

I don't think there is a particular 'best', but I'm surprised that Edwin Fischer wasn't mentioned at all. Here is his recording of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ91J0hjotA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlNGaaIPnWU
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/03/12 09:01 PM

Gould for me...
Posted by: Forrest Halford

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 07:44 AM

Originally Posted By: timmyab
I listen mainly to Schiff, Richter, Gulda and Fellner.
I wouldn't want to choose just one but if push came to shove I think Fellner is closest to my heart.I can't wait for him to record book two.


Delightful video by Fellner. I love threads like this because I find out about artists I wouldn't know about otherwise. Marvelous tone from that instrument as well.

I often wish that recordings were accompanied by - in addition to the artist, of course - the:
1. type of piano
2. type of actions
3. type of hammers
4. type of tuning temperament
5. name of the technician/tuner (or both if not the same)

as credits, the same way that recording engineers are given credits on albums.

Forrest
Posted by: apple*

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 07:53 AM

oh my gosh.. how could i decide.? I go to Gould for 'research' purposes... own the BBC's DVD of the WTCs. (way to many breaks between the recordings - i wish i could skip them).

I saw Schiff perform the Goldberg Variations and it was one of the best experiences in my life.
Posted by: Gerard12

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 10:00 AM

Originally Posted By: AldenH
If you can get past the smug perfection and incessant ornamentation, Schiff's Bach is a delight. The range of colors and contrasts he gets is truly astounding - the exact opposite of Gould's equally incredible x-ray vision contrapuntal clarity.

Sokolov's Art of Fugue is absolutely magnificent, probably the finest single non-Gould Bach recording I've ever heard. Stylistically he occupies the middle ground between Gould and Schiff, and yet his idiomatic view of Bach on the piano is entirely his own.


Up to recently, I've been fairly ambivalent about Art of fugue as performed on the piano. I've been most content to hear it played on harpsichords, organs, and even (gasp!) by string quartets. There's no rhyme nor reason to this predilection - though as I gradually warm up to Pierre-Laurent Aimard's recording, I feel the resistance fading..

So thank you for that little shove, AldenH, towards Sokolov's recording - which I've just sampled on YouTube. So that's what I've been missing? It sounds wonderful - and has just been placed on my "to buy" list.

I, too, am partial towards Schiff's Bach.

Nowadays, I tend to treat many of Gould's Bach recordings as ultra-fascinating curiosities: It's probably just a phase.
Posted by: Forrest Halford

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 11:33 AM

IS there ANYTHING that Sokolov plays poorly? That is another pianist I was unaware of until reading about him on this forum. What a giant!

Forrest
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: woodog
IS there ANYTHING that Sokolov plays poorly? That is another pianist I was unaware of until reading about him on this forum. What a giant!

Forrest


thumb

Sokolov is legendary!!
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 01:06 PM

For my taste, Sokolov makes heavy weather of Chopin's 24 Preludes....
Posted by: Damon

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 04:53 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
For my taste, Sokolov makes heavy weather of Chopin's 24 Preludes....


Is that good?
Posted by: stores

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 06:58 PM

Originally Posted By: apple*
I go to Gould for 'research' purposes... own the BBC's DVD of the WTCs.


What? I have a feeling I won't like the answer.
Posted by: jnod

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 08:59 PM

Originally Posted By: timmyab
I listen mainly to Schiff, Richter, Gulda and Fellner.
I wouldn't want to choose just one but if push came to shove I think Fellner is closest to my heart.I can't wait for him to record book two.


I love this....
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/04/12 11:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: bennevis
For my taste, Sokolov makes heavy weather of Chopin's 24 Preludes....


Is that good?

I don't think bennevis thought so. Myself, I haven't heard Sokolov in the Chopin, so cannot comment, though I have admired other recordings of his.
Posted by: ChibiSF

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/05/12 12:57 AM

I really like Edward Aldwell's recording of the Well Tempered Clavier.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/05/12 02:23 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: bennevis
For my taste, Sokolov makes heavy weather of Chopin's 24 Preludes....


Is that good?

I don't think bennevis thought so. Myself, I haven't heard Sokolov in the Chopin, so cannot comment, though I have admired other recordings of his.


His Chopin (on his CD of live performances at any rate - almost all his recordings are live) tend to labor excessively in the slow Preludes and Etudes - over-egging the pudding, or investing them with excessive gravitas (almost as if they are Last Testaments, or the slow movement of Beethoven's Hammerklavier), when a simpler flowing interpretation is required. He takes almost 10 minutes longer than most other pianists in the Preludes.

But in Russian repertoire, like Rach 3, as well as Bach, he really has few peers: what a pity one of his Rach 3 performances he recorded live for the BBC in the 1990s (including one from the BBC Proms) can't be put onto CD. And as you'd expect, he played the big cadenza magnificently.
Posted by: BWV 846

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/07/12 07:06 PM

I'm just a lowly adult beginner who recently started listening to classical music seriously. I must say that I absolutely love Angela Hewitt's Well-Tempered Clavier. I think she plays with grace, elegance, subtlety, and most of all, brings out the joyfulness in Bach's music. I saw her in concert last night and she was wonderful. I bought her "Bach Performance on the Piano" DVD and love it -- I have watched it three times already and probably will watch it many more times.

Also, I know that GG's '55 Goldbergs are supposed to be brilliant, but much of it just sounds like background music for a video game to me. I do really like his Italian Concerto though.

Finally, I am going to Bachfest Leipzig next month, and would appreciate any recommendations.
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/07/12 07:12 PM

Hewitt and Schiff are fantastic!
Posted by: wr

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/07/12 07:27 PM

Originally Posted By: woodog
IS there ANYTHING that Sokolov plays poorly? That is another pianist I was unaware of until reading about him on this forum. What a giant!



Sokolov played possibly the weirdest recital I've ever been to, out of decades of going to concerts. Technically astonishing, but musically [censored] and perverse to the max. I was totally surprised, since I thought (and still think) very highly of a Chopin etude recording of his. A friend attending with me (a conservatory-trained pianist) said, afterwards, "Some concerts are life-enhancing. That was exactly the opposite - you felt like life was being sucked out of you."

So, yeah, he is amazing, but then there are days....
Posted by: Andromaque

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/07/12 08:06 PM

Where was that recital and what did he play?
Funny coincidence, but I also admire Sokolov based on his YT clips. But I happen to listen to his Franck's Prelude, Chorale and Fugue. I hated his LH and his whole concept of the piece. Next on my line up was Cortot playing the same piece with such grace and gorgeous tone that he debunked my personal Sokolov myth. Needless to say he remains an awesome pianist but not a universal one, I guess.
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/09/12 09:49 PM

Originally Posted By: RichterForever
Murray Perahia, hands down winner for me.


Amen. Schepkin's pretty darned good, too. And John Browning has an absolutely astonishing performance of the Italian Concerto. He plays the solo parts with the sort of freedom a solo performer would have, and the tutti parts the way an orchestra would. I've never heard anyone else do that.
Posted by: Gerard12

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/10/12 08:05 AM

I can't believe that I didn't mention this previously - especially since I've been listening to it a lot lately:

I've been quite taken by Jeffrey Biegel's Bach on a Steinway disc. In it, I find a wonderful sense of color, articulation, delineation - and drama.

All especially surprising to me, since I've heard (and maybe played) many of the pieces a gazillion times before.

There's probably another thread about it here somewhere - he's a member. I'm sort of wishing for a Vol 2.......
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/10/12 08:25 AM

Here is a steel cage battle to the death between 5 very well known pianists, side by side, playing the D major BK 1 prelude. I found this to be an interesting and entertaining listen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1G5ikwyhK0&feature=related
Posted by: Piano Again

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/10/12 09:20 AM

I don't see how one can say someone is "best"; perhaps just which version or approach you prefer, if that. It's like saying which flower is best.

At one of my lessons recently, my teacher pulled out a handful of recordings of the Bach P&F I'm working on and we listened to them together while he pointed out what he liked or what was interesting about each of them. Each was distinctly different. This was both entertaining and educational, but the point wasn't to choose the "best"; rather, to hear how different intelligences process the same music. There is no one right (or wrong!) way to play it.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/10/12 09:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Piano Again
my teacher pulled out a handful of recordings of the Bach P&F I'm working on and we listened to them together while he pointed out what he liked or what was interesting about each of them. Each was distinctly different. This was both entertaining and educational, but the point wasn't to choose the "best"; rather, to hear how different intelligences process the same music.


What an excellent lesson that must have been.
Posted by: ponydroom

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/10/12 10:55 AM

Originally Posted By: timmyab
I listen mainly to Schiff, Richter, Gulda and Fellner.
I wouldn't want to choose just one but if push came to shove I think Fellner is closest to my heart.I can't wait for him to record book two.


Wow, thanks. I hadn't heard from him and it's truly marvelous. Too bad this recording isn't on Itunes!
Posted by: Piano Again

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/10/12 11:05 AM

Originally Posted By: lilylady
Originally Posted By: Piano Again
my teacher pulled out a handful of recordings of the Bach P&F I'm working on and we listened to them together while he pointed out what he liked or what was interesting about each of them. Each was distinctly different. This was both entertaining and educational, but the point wasn't to choose the "best"; rather, to hear how different intelligences process the same music.


What an excellent lesson that must have been.


Yes - one of many with this teacher.
Posted by: Shahram

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/12/12 12:56 AM

How could a musician hate another one. You might not like the way he interprets, RIGHT?
Posted by: wr

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/12/12 07:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Piano Again
I don't see how one can say someone is "best"; perhaps just which version or approach you prefer, if that. It's like saying which flower is best.

At one of my lessons recently, my teacher pulled out a handful of recordings of the Bach P&F I'm working on and we listened to them together while he pointed out what he liked or what was interesting about each of them. Each was distinctly different. This was both entertaining and educational, but the point wasn't to choose the "best"; rather, to hear how different intelligences process the same music. There is no one right (or wrong!) way to play it.


I like that "how different intelligences process the same music" line. It's funny how using the word "intelligences" instead of "musicians" or "pianists" gives it such a different spin - pragmatically, they are all the same.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/12/12 09:41 PM

When I'm learning a new P&F, I'll go to iTunes and download as many different performers as I can find, but I find myself returning to Gould, Hewitt and Schiff again and again. I like Gould for his creative interpretation, Hewitt for her precision and attention to detail and Schiff for his sheer virtuosoness (sorry, I made that word up..)
Posted by: stores

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/12/12 11:19 PM

Originally Posted By: LadyChen
When I'm learning a new P&F, I'll go to iTunes and download as many different performers as I can find...


Why?
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/13/12 12:51 AM

ROSALYN TURECK.
Posted by: apple*

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/13/12 10:15 AM

she's pretty excellent but i really like the alacrity of Gould
Posted by: Keith D Kerman

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/13/12 10:19 AM

Originally Posted By: pogorelich
ROSALYN TURECK.

I like Tureck a lot also, but now that I see her name all in caps, I am strangely compelled to agree with you.

Originally Posted By: apple*
she's pretty excellent but i really like the alacrity of Gould

Hmm.....although Pogo's caps were oddly compelling, I love the word alacrity, so I am once again on the Gould bandwagon.
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/13/12 10:24 AM

Originally Posted By: apple*
she's pretty excellent but i really like the alacrity of Gould


They're different. Can't really compare them. They're both very unique.
Posted by: jnod

Re: Best Bach Pianist - 05/13/12 10:30 AM

Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
ROSALYN TURECK.


Most definitely. Partitas in particular...