Music and Vision homepage Music and Vision welcomes new readers from Queensborough Community College CUNY

 

<<  -- 2 --  David Ponsford    Issued afresh

-------------------------------

At the time of this recording, Igor Kipnis was among the first generation of harpsichordists to use copies of historical instruments, along with Kenneth Gilbert and Gustav Leonhardt. He recorded the Partitas in the late 1970s, and it is these recordings which have now been digitally remastered and issued afresh. Kipnis's harpsichord was made by Rutkowski and Robinette (New York, 1970) and is a copy of a very large instrument by Hass replete with a 16' set of strings which Kipnis uses in the opening movements of Nos 2, 4 and 6. The sheer variety of registration colours is a feature of this recording, and this perhaps marks it as stemming from the early days of authentically-inspired performance practice. The recording sounds very close but has added (electronic) resonance as well, making for a rather unreal sound -- a harpsichord in full technicolor, if you like.

J S Bach: Solo Partitas Nos 1, 2 & 4 (c) 2000 EMI Classics USA

Whilst there is no doubt that this is committed playing, Kipnis has a few conceptual habits with which I cannot agree. The most obvious concerns repeats of dance movements. Kipnis often markedly simplifies Bach's text during the first playing, and then plays the repeat according to the printed page. What to do with repeats is, of course, a relevant issue, but this is a most unusual interpretation. A more logical solution would be to start with the printed text and then perhaps extend the degree of ornamentation. Kipnis seems unwilling to let the music itself speak, and a certain over-fussiness pervades the recording. Sometimes, as in the case of some Allemandes, this act of simplification leads to a faster tempo, and the same principle leads to a regrettable change from sarabande tendre to sarabande grave in Partita No 2. Elsewhere, Kipnis hardly allows the music to settle -- long notes at ends of sections are inevitably truncated.

The recording, at modern pitch, is not entirely clean, and my attention was drawn to various electronic and some natural noises (including crickets in the background), but this recording has a certain historical importance, being made by a great player at the beginning of a newly-found interest in Bach on period instruments. At that time, advocacy of the harpsichord for Bach performances must have been a prime concern. Perhaps Kipnis erred on the side of adventurousness in registration to contrast with all the American piano performances at that time. Nowadays, we have no need of such evangelism for the harpsichord, and we can let the music freely speak for itself.

Copyright © 16 September 2001 David Ponsford, Gloucestershire, UK

 

-------

CD INFORMATION - EMI CLASSICS (USA) 5 73700 2

PURCHASE TOCCATAS 1,2&4 FROM AMAZON

CD INFORMATION - ANGEL RECORDS 5 74007 2

PURCHASE TOCCATAS 3,5&6 FROM AMAZON

 

 << Music & Vision home      Recent reviews       Placido Domingo >>