Album Title: Bach Preludes, Fugues and Chorals
Performer: Edna Stern
Label: ZigZag Territoires
Play Time
: 65'42"
Recorded: April 2008, France


After a previous album dedicated to Robert Schumann, the young Israeli pianist turns back to Bach.
Edna Stern has declared that her recording of several different versions of the "Chaconne in D minor" offers two levels of interpretations on Bach, the transcriber's (Busoni) and hers. However, the first interesting point of this recording of preludes and fugues of The well-tempered Clavier is the sound. Edna has chosen to play modern piano for the chorales, preludes and fugues. She considers Bach not bound by the characteristics of a particular instrument when he writes for keyboard. With its broad potential range of timbres, the piano makes it possible to convey in almost imitative fashion those inflections of Bach's music which derive mostly from a vocal and orchestral base.


The second interesting point consists of delivering a performance radically different from a simple "five-finger exercise". Edna Stern is obviously taking liberties with these conventional compositions. According to Edna, each prelude or fugue has its own color and calls for a particular orchestration. The pianist has completely succeeded in using the multitude of different inflections of her piano to be closer than ever to the sonorities that can evoke the voice or the orchestra.


Furthermore, the overall bass climate of the album is contributing to reinforce the similarity of the harmonic richness that only an organ is able to deliver. Sometimes, the sensation of hearing the effect of the wind passing trough the pipes is quite realistic. Of course your own loudspeaker setup will allow you -- or not -- to take the exact measure of the various nuances in the pianist's game. The 'organ touch' of Edna goes so far that she has also included a piece originally written for organ even though it does not absolutely require a keyboard - "Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele", one of Brahms' posthumous chorales.


The ivory game of the young pianist consents to give a new dimension to Bach's compositions by offering very expressive reading. Edna Stern really does have an input all her own. We are dealing here with pure creative artistry at work. The performer is rediscovering these preludes, fugues and chorales on our behalf. And you know what? That's the way I enjoy classical music. From the first to last note, this recording is an exhilarating pleasure. It reminds me of the beautiful moments I had in the past listening to Jacques Loussier...