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GRAMOPHONE (08/2015)
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Reviewer:  Harriet Smith


Rudolf Buchbinder offers Bach-playing of confidence and intelligence, unafraid to ornament and keen to point up the drama of the music. I have the impression that Bach is for him above all a serious composer: in the opening of the Second Partita, he emphasises the strong-jawed quality of the chordal writing, melting less than some – Perahia and Goode, for example – in the limpid Andante that follows. Faster movements tend to be somewhat straitlaced: just compare the same Partita’s Allemande with Anderszewski, live at Carnegie Hall. With this seriousness comes, at times, a lack of variety within the suites. By taking the Courante of BWV826 somewhat steadily and the following Sarabande relatively quickly, he lessens their characterfulness. What I missed in these readings was a sense of sheer physical pleasure. The handcrossing Gigue from the First Partita, for instance, is a model of finesse and joy in Perahia’s performance, a careering speedfest of the greatest ebullience in Anderszewski’s, alongside which Buchbinder sounds steady and a touch po-faced. Similarly, in the Second Partita’s closing Capriccio, there’s none of the bubbling, quiet euphoria of Perahia’s reading (and there’s a curious misreading in bar 2, where Buchbinder plays an A flat rather than an A natural, but which he rights on the repeat).


The best thing in the Third English Suite is the Sarabande, to which Buchbinder lends a quiet poise. The Gavotte, though, sounds over-fussy compared to Anderszewski’s play of light and shade. And while the Gigue is well-


intentioned, turn to the Pole and the music becomes positively airborne; if that’s too extreme for your taste, the masterly Kempff offers a persuasive middle ground.



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