Bach didn’t much care for the piano when he first saw an early prototype. He thought that the treble notes were too soft. Even Mozart didn’t like the modern piano in his studio. Thus, it is difficult to judge what Bach would have written if he would have had access to the modern Steinway. However, the superb pianist Jeffery Biegel gives us a pretty good idea in his new release Bach on a Steinway.
This Arkly Music release, which is the first in a new series of releases by Steinway and Sons itself, covers some of Bach’s most challenging works. While the purists might tut-tut about his approach, Biegel takes a decidedly modern view of these pieces. By “modern” I don’t mean in the sense of the historically accurate movement.
That would be patently ridiculous on a nine-foot concert grand. By “modern,” I mean that he plays these works as he imagines Bach would have played them if he was magically transported to the 21st century.
These are not the mechanical and coolly perfect readings of someone like Glenn Gould. They are much more nuanced. Bach’s manuscripts have few markings, so it is up to each individual performer to try to enter the mind of the composer and divine how he wanted his music to be performed. Biegel gives us his ideas in no uncertain terms.
Agree or not, this is a deeply personal and unique reading of some of Bach’s most beloved compositions for the keyboard. It is beautifully recorded and the piano sounds terrific. This recording is a must for listeners who always found Bach too dry. Any serious student of Bach’s music should also get this recording, if only to argue with it or praise it.
The recording is available on Amazon, here.