No doubt many of you are wondering whether I should be recording Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas at the age of only 21. Perhaps I should have waited a bit longer? Well, patience has seldom been my strong point, and after all I have already waited a number of years for an opportunity to record these works. During the first six years of study with my teacher Ana Chumachenco, I studied the sonatas and partitas thoroughly, and first performed both cycles in their entirety in the Bach year 2000, during the course of two evenings at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival.
Karl Richter’s recordings of Bach’s orchestral and sacred music influenced an entire generation of musicians and listeners, presenting the conductor’s unique sound and style. When Richter recorded Bach’s works, he freed them from a ponderous tradition that had mired the music in romantic sounds and idiom. Richter lightened Bach’s music, and, with an orchestra of outstanding musicians, helped bring it toward the more modern interpretations that listeners have become familiar with today. This is still a bit far from the historically-informed performances that are pretty much the norm, but there is a unity and natural originality that comes through the music in these recordings.
The father of the Baroque period, Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the greatest composers of all time. His works, covering a wide range of instruments and voice types, continue to flourish to this day, forming a core part of musical learning. This special disc brings together the Trio Sonatas BWV525–530, works that originally appeared in a manuscript of works for organ. In this form, the pieces naturally became part of Bach’s teaching – a notable contribution to his oldest son Wilhelm Friedemann’s virtuoso organ technique.
Gavrilov is a pianist of outstanding virtuosity and power. In 1974 Melodiya recorded the 1st Tchaikovsky-concerto at the pricewinner concert of the Tchaikovsky competition together with a live solo recital. 1976 a studio recording of the 3rd Rachmaninoff concerto followed. From 1977 to 1989 he worked exclusively for EMI. From that time dates the legendary recording of the Chopin-Etudes and many other works, notably from Chopin, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and J.S. Bach. From 1991 to 1993 he recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, where Gavrilov, who among new works keeps his core repertoire, also duplicated some works already recorded for EMI. A number of projects with many Gavrilov-premieres was no more realized, Bach's English Suites, the complete Beethoven piano concerti, the Choral Fantasie and the Diabelli Variations, as well as more vague plans with works by Liszt (Etudes d'execution transcendante, Paganini-Etudes), Ravels complete works for piano solo and with orchestra, the piano concertos of Grieg und Schumann and Benjamin Brittens Golden Vanity. In 2009 a number of new DVD-recordings is planned for release.
Most of us come to the Saint John Passion knowing the Saint Matthew Passion first. The bigger and more elaborate Saint Matthew, which came along three, or possibly five years later (there is controversy about the date), has tended to cast a shadow in which the earlier work is swallowed up, and this has been so ever since Mendelssohn's Saint Matthew performance in 1829 marked the beginning of the public rediscovery of J.S. Bach. (The professionals had never forgotten.) But if the Saint John is smaller in scale than the Saint Matthew, it is hardly the lesser work in quality, though it would of course be silly to claim that the master of the Saint Matthew Passion had not learned from the experience of setting Saint John. But the most interesting differences between these two towering attestations of faith are differences in intention. Read Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, and John 18-19, and you get four tellings of the last days in the life of Jesus that differ in tone, emphasis, and detail…