Classics Today

Burkard Schliessmann opens this Bach release with a performance of the C minor Partita that far surpasses his earlier recording on MSR. The Sinfonia introduction’s dotted rhythms are more assertive this time around, while the pianist eschews his earlier phrase tapering. The Allemande and Sarabande remain slow and introspective, but they flow better without Schliessmann’s earlier heavy accents. While the Capriccio’s cautious tempo and uneven fingerwork recalls the MSR recording, at least Schliessmann now maintains his basic tempo rather than slowing down over time.

Unfortunately, his sprightly Italian Concerto first movement does get slower and less digitally defined as it progresses. He phrases the slow movement’s opening left-hand accompaniment poorly at the start, but the interpretation gradually settles in and gains expressive elegance. The Presto is reasonably solid, but Schliessmann has a habit of slightly rushing the main theme’s 16th notes that follow the first two F-natural eighth notes.

He plays the A minor BWV 904 Fantasia faster and with less ornamentation than Angela Hewitt, but his measured, lyrical Fugue yields to Hewitt’s brisker pace and more sophisticated voicing. Unfortunately, Schliessmann’s sketchy articulation in the C minor Fantasia results in occasional dropped beats. He brings attractive lightness and clarity to the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, yet without the dynamism, definition, and stylish flair of András Schiff’s formidable Decca recording. Every disc I’ve encountered by Schliessmann is impeccably engineered and well packaged, and this one is no exception.

—Jed Distler