Murray Perahia is releasing a new album of Bach partitas for the piano, Bach Partitas1, 5, and 6. This is a follow up album to his universally acclaimed first album, Bach Partitas 2, 3, 4. Well, he has done it again. His lyrical mastery of the piano brings these lovely little suites to life. Even the most florid moments are played so delicately as to simply pour like liquid gold from the piano without seeming garish or flamboyant – quite the opposite, it is impossible to imagine them any different. Each individual phrase is shines in its place, allowing the intricate polyphonic interweaving of Bach’s melodies to play out in perfect synchronicity.
Many of the movements are based on dances. In Bach’s Partita No. 1 the Gigue is a delightful play with a running series of mini arpeggios underneath a rather staccato melody which dances all around the arpeggios. Mr Perahia’s ability to crest and fall without causing the piece to rush or drag is simply amazing. Bach’s Partita No. 5, the Corrente, is a wonderful blend of multiple melodic lines interweaving and playing off each other. There are times when the bass needs to come through or when the tenor or treble line needs to dominate. Perahia has no trouble keeping each line moving and yet bringing to light each one as it needs highlighted. In the Gigue, the piece seems to halt at first, but only because Bach is playing with the syncopation of the actual line, giving us only bits of it before the piece comes together.
The final Partita No. 6 is as much a joy as the first two. The toccata is strong without being bombastic. With the Allemande, Perahia plays the leading embellishments with a subtle crescendo leading into the primary note – beautifully done. As with the Gigue in No. 1, the Corrente has multiple lines moving at different speeds, each one folded into the others to create a sparkling light, waltz-like dance. The air has fugue elements where the opening line needs to fade beneath the second line and so on. As each line appears, Perahia gives it just enough weight to be heard, but not overpowering, for an air should also be a light melody. The Gavotta bounces along delightfully while the Gigue allows the intricacy of Bach’s writing to really shine.
I do not know how anyone can heap more praise on this album than they did on the last one. Perhaps it is just enough to say it is just as perfect as the first. As a two time Grammy® Award-winner it appears Murray Perahia is after a third with his latest album.