Anderszewski’s Reissue

Discussion in 'Music & Music Streaming Services' started by Todd_A, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. Todd_A


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    Whilst at the CD Hut, I picked up Anderszewski’s latest Bach, Beethoven, and Webern (?) CD. Upon unsealing the package and glancing over the notes, I discovered that this disc is actually a reissue of an Accord recording made in 1996. So, here’s a chance to hear a young(er) Anderszewski. ‘Tis a mixed bag.

    I started with the Beethoven Op 110, and right away it’s clear this in Pete playing. He has his, well, willful approach, though unlike some, he opts to express his willfulness by playing more slowly and emphasizing certain aspects of the score – highlighting a chord here or savoring some pedaling (usually using the sustain pedal) there. He brings the work in at a slow 23 minutes, though it’s not boring. Yes, he is a bit mannered, and perhaps his purposeful slowness can detract from the piece here and there in the opening – it’s obvious he’s making points – but at least he can unleash an outburst when needed, as in the second movement, and for the most part he succeeds. Then comes the finale. Here the slowness and point making become a bit intrusive, and in the fourth section (of the five track finale) he ends it by starting out with a soft chord and adding volume with each chord until it’s plenty loud, and then he follows it with slow, single notes, letting them ring out, before finally moving on to the ending. It’s a bit too mannered. His youthful zeal to present the piece lacks some of the refinement of his equally willful but more compelling, more recent Bach and Chopin recordings.

    The Webern Variations fares well though not that well. His is a staccato-laden approach, noticeably more so than the other versions in my collection. It also relies perhaps a bit much on contrasting dynamic markings, with first some quiet playing and then some loud playing, with the exaggeration becoming a bit much by the end. That written, it still holds one’s attention, though I suppose it’s hard to lose interest in such a short piece. No, his playing does not erase memories of Pollini, Zimerman, or Uchida. (How I love Uchida’s Second Viennese playing.)

    That leaves the Sixth English Suite from Bach, which I listened to last, even though it’s first on the disc. This is the reason to get the disc. I love his previous Virgin release of three of the Partitas, where his willful playing combined with greater maturity to yield a mesmerizing disc. I can easily understand why some would not like it though. But ironically, given the performance of the other two works, and his later Bach, this piece is relatively straight-forward. He drives the dance numbers with a sure rhythmic drive where appropriate, but he also backs off to allow for some quieter, reflective moments. The Sarabande is wonderfully played, though I could have done without the heavy breathing, and the second Gavotte has some delightfully delicate playing in it. This is some fine Bach playing.

    The sound is bright and clear, if perhaps both a bit too close and too reverberant for my taste. (How did the engineers do it? Some post recording jiggery-pokery, perhaps?)

    Anyway, if you like Anderszewski, do consider it. If not, you may want to try something else.

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