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A wonderful idea, imperfectly realised. The challenge here is to illuminate Bach and Bartók by throwing them into relief against each other. The prerequisite is an interpreter who plays both composers equally well. In Libeer we have a first-rate Bartók performer; his Bach, while commendable, lags behind.

Comparing Libeer to Perahia (DG) in the Bach French Suite reveals that even where Libeer is impressive (cascading runs in the Courante), listening to Perahia is like coming out into the sun. Both are generous with decorations, but Perahia’s are unforced. Bartók’s Out of Doors is superb, Libeer finding real lyricism in this angular score.

The juxtaposition of the Second Partita with Bartók’s Suite reveals a similar dynamic.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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