Over four decades since securing worldwide recognition as one of the finest musicians of her generation, Maria João Pires continues to transfix audiences with the spotless integrity, eloquence and vitality of her art. This recital, recorded live in the splendid Wigmore Hall acoustics, is clearly a red-letter event for chamber music connoisseurs. Pires is partnered by Antonio Meneses, cellist with the Beaux Arts Trio and artist of great wisdom and imagination.
Performances of Bach's St. John Passion, BWV 245, with these forces or close to them have become an annual Eastertime tradition in London, and this recording is guaranteed an appreciative audience. Certain details relate specifically to this tradition: several chorales are sung unaccompanied, but an accompanied version is included at the end for those who reject the dramatization.
Albert Schweitzer was a German (writing in French also) theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. As well as his important theological work (he depicted Jesus as literally believing the end of the world was coming in his own lifetime), he developed various theories on music, in particular the work of J.S. Bach. He explained figures and motifs in Bach’s Chorale Preludes as painter-like tonal and rhythmic imagery illustrating themes from the words of the hymns on which they were based.
Dantone interpretation is easily one of the best I have heard in recent years, and I consider it among the elite harpsichord recordings of the Goldbergs in the catalogs. His interpretations feature a compelling mix of power/energy, rhythmic lift, sharply etched phrasing, poignant refrains, playful episodes, bleak terrains and totally satisfying conversations from Bach's contrapuntal musical lines. I think it is fair to say that Dantone gives us the full measure of Bach's soundworld in excellent sonics that are crisp as well as well as abundantly rich.