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Jeffrey BiegelHere's an easy choice for music fans on your holiday shopping list -- assuming they like Bach, piano and Bach played on the piano.

A new CD titled "Bach on a Steinway" offers some nice novelty angles, too. It's the inaugural release of Steinway & Sons own label, which will be devoted to pianists of the past and present who favored this brand of keyboard instrument.

And this recording features Jeffrey Biegel, a musician who doesn't just play Bach with great technical and coloristic flair, but also adds more ornamentation than pianists typically do in this repertoire.

Biegel, you may recall, persuasively embellished Mozart sonatas on recordings for the E1 Entertainment label; that was one of my picks last year at this time. With Bach, Biegel is always tasteful, applying ornaments with an elegant, unfussy touch in a program that includes a couple of toccatas, two preludes and fugues, a partita and the French Suite No. 5.

To give you a taste of Biegel's embellishments, first listen to

another pianist playing the last measures of the D major Fugue from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier, a perfectly fine performance that sticks to the notes as written: Listen!

Now here's Biegel playing the end of this fugue with some delectable ornamentation (if you hear any static, that's not the disc, but some glitches I encountered while creating the audio clip and couldn't eliminate):


The sound quality is excellent on the disc and, of course, so is the piano -- a 1980 Steinway Model D that Biegel chose for its "warmth and wide dynamic range, but also the brightness and bite I was after for Bach." That pretty much describes the performances. I especially like the bite.

7 years ago | Read Full Story
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