October 26, 2016

Breakfast of penitence

Today I ate for breakfast my words about Till Fellner.  What made me change my mind about this pianist was his playing of Bach - not the hideously disembodied floating-in-vacuum studio recordings he made for the ECM label, but broadcast recordings of his recitals where he played selections from Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier.  Having long given up on Glenn Gould's juvenile pranksterism and Sviatoslav Richter's Soviet-Industrial grimness, I found Fellner's calm, reflective, Apollonian approach to Bach very attractive.  I doubt I'll ever hear a more telling example of what Charles Rosen had in mind when he described Bach's keyboard music as deeply private and meditative.

Those of you who have been waiting for an opportunity to vindicate your suspicion that I can be as much of a judgmental doofus as any professional music critic now can do so with these Fellner performances from Schwarzenberg (BWV 874-877, VIII.24.2014), Rohrnbach (BWV 878-881, VI.25.2015), and Hohenems (BWV 888-893, X.7.2016).