Bach & Beyond

Bach & Beyond

by Gabriela Montero
     
 
Gabriela Montero made quite a splash with her debut album for EMI in 2005 -- less for the main course of Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Chopin than for a bonus disc of ingenious improvisations that showed off a talent quite foreign to most classical musicians. Now the Venezuelan pianist has returned with a new

Overview

Gabriela Montero made quite a splash with her debut album for EMI in 2005 -- less for the main course of Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Chopin than for a bonus disc of ingenious improvisations that showed off a talent quite foreign to most classical musicians. Now the Venezuelan pianist has returned with a new recital (and a new hairstyle that makes her a dead ringer for Jane Fonda in Klute), and as fans of that earlier bonus disc will be glad to hear, the improvisations on Bach and Beyond have been moved front and center. Since she's taking her lead from a single composer this time, the album has a greater sense of focus, yet her approaches to the original Bach compositions are still remarkably varied. On a few tracks, like her "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" improvisation, the original is palpably present both at the outset and as an underlying guide, but in general, her imagination runs even more freely than in the past. For the "Air in G" (better known as the "Air on the G String") Bach's melody is almost wholly absorbed into the Latin rhythms that Montero surrounds it with, while the "Aria" from Bach's Goldberg Variations -- which Montero also had a crack at on her previous recital -- takes a detour through Debussy before settling into an unexpectedly spiky march. At her best -- whether elaborating the obsessive rhythms of the Allegro from the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 or meditating peacefully on the Adagio from the Violin Concerto No. 2 -- Montero's spontaneous art once again achieves a truly rewarding degree of originality.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Rick Anderson
Jazz musicians have been taking themes (and even large-scale compositions) of Johann Sebastian Bach and giving them jazz settings for years -- the Modern Jazz Quartet did so famously in the 1950s, and the Jacques Loussier Trio has set up a virtual cottage industry in that practice more recently. It would be natural to expect something similar from an album of improvisations titled Bach & Beyond. But Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero isn't a jazz pianist -- she's a classical pianist who improvises, and although there are jazz-inflected moments on this collection of two- to seven-minute extemporizations, the overall sound is a decorous blend of Baroque and romantic styles with occasional passages suggesting turn-of-the-century salon music and South American dance genres as well. One of Montero's favorite techniques is to take a major-key theme and play it through before knocking it down into a dark minor-key variation, and then take that as the starting point for a long series of cyclical variations -- note, for example, her treatments of an aria from the "Goldberg Variations" and of the familiar "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" melody. Her Latin roots are exposed nicely on a brief and exhilarating expansion of one of Bach's two-part inventions, while she indulges her more contemplative side on a sweet and lovely rendition of "Sheep May Safely Graze." Those who consider Bach's music a temple that must not be sullied or contaminated by mere mortals may want to steer clear, but the rest of us will find much to enjoy here.
Time Out New York - Brian Wise
Montero recovers this lost art while adding her own funky sensibility.
Toronto Star - John Terauds
A rich, masterful effort that brings together familiar musical themes by J.S. Bach with improvisations that straddle the classical and jazz worlds.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/12/2006
Label:
Warner Classics
UPC:
0094636464725
catalogNumber:
64647

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, for piano (after Bach's Herz und Mund und
  2. Presto, for piano (after Bach's Italian Concerto, BWV 971)
  3. Beyond Bach, for piano
  4. Air in G, for piano (after Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, BWV 1068
  5. Aria, for piano (after Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988)
  6. Adagio, for piano (after Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 in E, BWV 1042)
  7. Prelude in C, for piano (after Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1
  8. Sheep may safely graze, for piano (after Bach's The Hunt Cantata, BWV 2
  9. Two-Part Invention in D minor, for piano (after Bach's Two-Part Inventi
  10. Allegro, for piano (after Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G, BWV 1
  11. Adagio, for piano (after Bach's Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 974)
  12. Toccata in D minor, for piano (after Bach's Toccata in D minor, BWV 565

Album Credits

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >