- Six Little Preludes, for keyboard, BWV 933-938 (BC L64-69)
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Here's a really unusual Bach keyboard recording from Japanese pianist Hiromi Ikei, who was trained in Germany and Switzerland as well as her home country. The album was recorded in a studio in Wuppertal, Germany (and very beautifully), and released on the small German audiophile label Ars Produktion, but it seems to be aimed partly at a Japanese market. The rather scholarly title Aspekte (Aspects) gives you an idea of Ikei's approach. Her playing is unashamedly pianistic, with numerous small gradations in dynamics, but it's not romantic, and it doesn't draw attention to itself. Ikei uses the pedal in phrasing, but it's sparingly applied, and it is never allowed to interfere with clarity of tone. That clarity is critical to Ikei's approach, which teases out small details and puts wholly unfamiliar flavors into the music. Consider the tripping "Gigue" finale of the "French Suite in C minor, BWV 813," or the limpid, charming "Echo" finale of the "Overture in the French Style in B minor, BWV 831," from the "Clavier-Übung." The entire recording is absorbing and may be experienced in entirely different ways over multiple hearings, but the highlight may be the "Six Little Preludes, BWV 933-938" (tracks 2-7), small pedagogical pieces that are not often performed. Ikei's readings are crystalline and utterly distinctive. The entire album is well worth a place in collections of all those except strong adherents of historical performance.