After spending about two weeks scouring for this CD, i finally managed to grab the only copy available from my local Tower Records store before deciding to order from Amazon.com as a last resort. I took this for a listen one night to perhaps have a little light soothing music before going to sleep, and it turned out that this CD kept me awake all night long.
In the opening Prelude (track 1) of Handel's Suite No. 5, the left hand comes in with just an ordinary single melodic line, but it is when the right hand comes in that the magic and enchantment begins, with the Allemande (track 2), Courante (track 3) and Air (track 4) following shortly. And it is at this point where I was captivated by not only Murray Perahia's playing but the shape and flow of the music. I knew that more was to come, and indeed, the Chaconne in G (track 5) blew me away totally, with breathtaking lyricism, beautiful contrapuntal weavings, flawless technique, controlled structural balance and startling virtuosity. All i could do was stare at my stereo while the CD spins and worship the sublimity of sound that was emanating from the speakers. This is baroque as I have never heard before.
By the end of the 8-minute Chaconne I found myself at a total loss for words. And this is only the 5th track out of 22. I'm finding it hard to describe in words the section with the bass octaves and running right-hand passages. Just take a listen to it and you'll see what I mean. I'll be searching for the Chaconne score the moment I have free time to spare. Needless to say the following tracks are equally brilliant. Unforgettable are the Air from Suite No. 3 (track 10) and Allegro from Suite No. 2 (track 13), my personal favourites alongside the Chaconne.
Perahia gives us a treat from Scarlatti in the second half of the programme, featuring 7 of the probably less known sonatas. I have played a selected few of Scarlatti's sonatas not in this CD and have enjoyed them, but with Perahia's playing of these Sonatas, particularly K27 (track 17), I feel compelled to dig out my Scarlatti Sonata score and start playing it, to indulge myself further in the characteristic excellence of Scarlatti.
What else can I say? After a 1st listening of this CD i immediately replayed it again, trying to make myself believe that such music ever existed and is played by one of the most accomplished pianists of our time. I am currently attempting one of J.S.Bach's Partitas, and I believe that if I could ever attain perhaps a fifth of Perahia's fluidity and lyricism palpably expressed in the Chaconne and incorporate it into the Partita, I would be greatly contented.
This is a disc that should never be missed. Take my word for it. A CD that is truly a treasure. And a big BRAVO to Murray Perahia, who already astounded me the first time he came to my country for a one night performance of Beethoven/Schubert repertoire.