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Re: Schiff

Chisa Sugihara wrote:

>> I haven't heard Schiff's English Suites yet.  I bought his Goldbergs
>> just for an experience, and never played it again.  If any of you have a
>> to say anything good about Schiff's playing other than no humming,
>> please let me know.  I am very interested to hear.  If this topic was
>> discussed before, please forgive me.

...and Mike Flemmer responded:

>There is plenty good things to say about Schiff.  He is certainly
>one of the very best Bach pianist's today.  Especially his live Bach.
>It's fantastic.  No one should pass up a chance to see Schiff live
>playing Bach.  I've heard a few of his live Bach performances on the
>radio and it's spectacular.  (Schiff's Beethoven is not so hot though)
>Schiff's recordings are a mixed bag.  The English Suites are very
>good and the high praise from critics is well deserved.  They are
>worth a listen and worthy of purchase too.  Schiff's Goldberg's are much
>less desriable.  Schiff takes the opening Aria too fast and compared to
>Gould, it sounds rushed and not as 'sensitive.'

Hmm.  I've liked all the Schiff recordings of Bach that I've heard.  As
Bach's biographer Forkel wrote about the Partitas, anyone who learned to
play some of these pieces well could make his way in the world, and that's
exactly what Schiff did in 1984: excellent recording of them.  It was one of
the first Bach-on-piano CD's I ever bought (already having most of the GG
LP's).  I listened again to some of it this morning and am impressed with
his touch: gentle, and sensitive, as if he were playing a clavichord (Rubsam
also plays this way on piano).  There is an easy flow to his playing, with
poise and balance.  I don't own copies of his Goldbergs, Inventions, or
English Suites, but remember them all being similarly excellent, especially
the gracefulness and flow in the Goldbergs.

There's a fantastic new Schiff recording of the Busoni "Fantasia
Contrappuntistica," which is Busoni's elaboration of the unfinished fugue
from Bach's "Art of Fugue."  He uses the two-piano version, with Peter
Serkin at the other piano.  I've heard about ten recordings of this piece,
and would put this one among the very best for dimensionality and
contrapuntal clarity.  (The reviewers in _Fanfare_ and _American Record
Guide_ were unfortunately both too unfamiliar with this piece to make any
substantial comparisons.)  Serkin has recorded this piece before (with
Richard Goode at Marlboro), and his own solo debut recording many years ago
was the Goldbergs.  So, he and Schiff both bring excellent background to
this performance.

Bradley Lehman, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
Dayton VA