Hot tracks: Back To Bach by Kenneth Hamilton

Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton's authoritative but persuasive playing is accompanied by his own insightful and witty programme notes which make this a complete package one would regularly return to.
Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton's authoritative but persuasive playing is accompanied by his own insightful and witty programme notes which make this a complete package one would regularly return to.PHOTO: PRIMA FACIE

CLASSICAL

BACK TO BACH

Kenneth Hamilton, Piano

Prima Facie CD061

5 stars

When pianophiles talk about hyphenated Bach, they are referring to Johann Sebastian Bach's music in arrangements or transcriptions specifically for the piano by later composers. Thus, Bach-Busoni is not a person, but describes the authorship of Bach's music as transcribed by the Italian piano virtuoso and scholar Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924).

This excellent album of "tributes and transcriptions" celebrates the cult of Bach, the most famous transcription being Busoni's take on Chaconne In D Minor, an elaborately dressed-up gothic edifice which has occasionally overshadowed the original for solo violin.

Rachmaninov's transcription of three movements - Prelude, Gavotte and Gigue - from Violin Partita No. 3 is so romanticised that the original sounds strangely quaint.

The four letters that make up the surname Bach (B flat-A-C-B natural) have a life of their own in the Fantasia And Fugue On B-A-C-H by Franz Liszt, a show of imperious pianism which is mirrored in the even more monumental Variations On Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, also by Liszt.

In between are Busoni's lovely chorale prelude transcriptions, miniatures by comparison.

Scottish pianist Kenneth Hamilton's authoritative but persuasive playing is accompanied by his own insightful and witty programme notes which make this a complete package one would regularly return to.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2018, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe