Gulda plays Bach at the clavichord. It sounds so simple, and yet it holds a wealth of musical depth and expression. In about 1978, the famous pianist Friedrich Gulda recorded his clavichord playing on various different occasions: at intimate concerts or during his morning practice, when he buried himself in the music as if at a séance – and from the unique combination of brilliant musician, eloquent instrument and eminent composer grew something quite special.
The recordings released in this series are devoted to the music of Bach, never a specialty among Russians, and they have the feeling of something extreme, developed in isolation. Feinberg plays Bach, perhaps, as Liszt might have heard Bach and played him – with maximum use of the pedals, a full range of dynamics, and an approach that in every way transforms Bach into an arch-Romantic. This disc, in the label's Feinberg series, is perhaps the most extreme of all, for here the artist tackles not only piano works but those for organ – the listener is treated not only to Feinberg's interpretations but also to his transcriptions. Sample the booming bass lines of the group of chorale preludes in the middle of the program. Of course, the line between transcription and interpretation in this case is not terribly clear. Taken as a whole, the Chromatic fantasia and fugue, BWV 903, leaves the impression that the music has been pushed nearly as far as in Busoni's Bach transcriptions; it's not Bach, really, but it's quite a thrill.
Following his magnificent recording of J.S. Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias for BIS last year, the Japanese harpsichordist/organist/conductor Masaaki Suzuki here offers more revelatory performances of some of Bach's equally well known (as well as some lesser known) masterpieces. With this collection, simply titled Fantasias & Fugues, Suzuki provides a grand overview of Bach's lifelong sporadic exploration of the Fantasia genre.
The box set comprised 100 volumes featuring 72 pianists of the 20th century, each volume with two CDs and a booklet about the life and work of the featured pianist. The set contains a variety of composers from different eras, from Baroque to Contemporary classical.