This is the first of two releases on which pianist Nils Anders Mortensen presents Bach’s Partitas for Piano. These six partitas, BWV 825-830, were published individually from 1726 onwards, and in 1731 as a collection called Clavier-Übung.
Among Bach’s works that can be described as dance suites — including the English Suites and French Suites — the partitas are the most technically demanding. They can be seen as the further development of his French Suites — more probing in the sense of a new approach to the different dance forms, more use of gallant melody with harmonies instead of imitating counterpoint, and containing new kinds of texture. In terms of the dance movements in particular, Bach leaves behind the traditional models, revealing remarkable creative freedom and variation.
Mortensen has one earlier release with music of Bach – also available from NativeDSD Music: Ouvertüre nach Französischer Art, BWV 831 / Sarabande con Partite, BWV 990 / Englische Suite Nr. 6 d-Moll, BWV 811 (LWC1174). His trademark playing style is based on knowledge of the authentic traditions, while at the same time remaining completely free of the traditions when he feels it offers an appropriate contrast.
With his critically acclaimed albums and concerts as soloist with the major Norwegian orchestras, Nils Anders Mortensen has distinguished himself as one of Norway’s leading pianists. He has been employed as state musician in Finnmark County for over 20 years, and is also active as a freelancer.
Nils Anders Mortensen, Piano
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:14:29
This recording has been made possible with support from Scene Nord
|Original Recording Format|
Sofienberg Church in Oslo, Norway on November 31, 2021 and December 1, 2021
|Release Date||May 5, 2023|
This is Bach in private mode, intimate, exploratory and rarely demonstrative. Nils Anders Mortensen recorded this first set of three Partitas (the other three will follow in a subsequent recording) in a church in Oslo, which gives the overall texture a liquidity that sometimes makes one wonder if he is over-pedaling. He isn’t, but the acoustics warm the sound while softening all the contours.
Mortensen’s interpretations use a sharp contrast between long passages in seamless legato and others in persistent staccato mode. His legato mode tends to a tender inwardness, as in the Allemande of Partita No 5. His staccato style can sometimes feel just a bit frantic, as in the strange accents and clipped rhythms of the Courante from Partita No 6 – the tempo isn’t unduly fast, yet it feels rushed.
At its best, this is elegant playing, without eccentricity or ostentation. There are no big effects and few moments when one senses the performer in the foreground. But one often feels as if a lot has been left on the table, including a sharper delineation of counterpoint and contrast between voices. The Sarabande of Partita No 6 gets so inward that much of the drama is left by the wayside. A no-drama approach is always welcome in Bach, in theory. But in this case, one wishes for a bit more of a sense of character, variety and interpretative individuality.
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