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Bach & Schoenberg: Suites


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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Utterly Charming Oct. 5 2009
By David M. Comins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I recently discovered the recordings that Andrew Rangell has made of Bach's keyboard pieces. I am utterly charmed by his playing; the adjectives that come to mind are felicity, gracefullness, intellectual and emotional rigor, a touch of whimsy and originiality that combine to make his performances uniquely satisfying. For many years I listened mainly to Gould, but more recently have expanded my cirecle to include Hewitt, Tureck, Perahia, Sheppard, Koroliov, Nikoleyva, Richter, Fellner, Aldwell and others. There is much joy to be gotten from all these master pianists,.... and yet I find myself returning most often to Rangell. I wish a had a word that describes the ineffable quality of his playing. It's almost as though he's approached Bach not out of trepidation of having of having to leave his mark on monumental works works that others have scaled before him, but rather as a delicious treat that has just been newly composed.

I don't have the depth of experience to review each of these suites in technical detail. Suffice it to say that I have never experienced the levels of tenderness, poignancy and exuberance elsewhere as I have with Andrew Rangell's performance. I feel similarly about his recording of the partitas and the WTC, and feel extremely fortunate to have made his acquaintance.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Some ok but mostly uneven. Oct. 21 2012
By David J. Friedlander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I went into these hopeful but was quickly disappointed. I'm not doubting Rangell's committment or effort but the end result is unsatisfactory. The playing is choppy and the natural flow is terribly disrupted. At times, lines burst out roughly, having a eruptive quality that is sadly distracting. Rangell also has a repetitive habit of playing the bass far too loud. He wants to show the entrance of a theme, but either doesn't realize the bass naturally carries more weight or is doing this heavy playing on purpose. If it is on purpose, then it is overly self conscious, trying to show off beyond necessity that he knows this is a new entrance of the theme. Where is the charm in this?

Further detriments include too rapid tempi choices that preempt the etherial beauty and delicate flow Bach placed in these suites. The texture of these suites is more spare than in the English Suites or Partitas and Bach did this for a reason. Rangell seems to ignore this and it sounds like he is pushing the music to be something far heavier than Bach intended. I'm guessing this is an homage to Glenn Gould, who famously will race tempos and induce force into lines in his desire to be original and different. Style is an important aspect to a performing musician but it should never be the ultimate goal. Much more prescient is being of service to the music and allow the beauty and intent of the music to sing out. Individual style should be subtle and then we still can know who is playing but more importantly, we know and clearly hear the voice of the composer. Here we have Rangell first, then Bach and while this choice is not illegal, as an artistic and musical directive, it is not very wise. Before buying this, I suggest listening to Hewitt, Schiff or Gavrilov. There you will find playing that is more mature, sensitive, pleasing and far more thoughtful.


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