Johann Sebastian Bach Piano Concertos Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

He couldn't have made a better beginning...

Charlotte Gardner 2008

One album that I return to time and time again is French pianist David Fray's debut album, a highly original and thought-provoking programme of Bach mixed with Boulez. Fray has stuck with Bach for his second disc, this time picking a collection of the keyboard concertos. Whilst the programme itself is less quirky (no sneaky injections of Boulez or the like this time around), Fray's recording still stands out from the crowd; it seems that intelligent individuality mixed with technical prowess are going to be this young French pianist's hallmarks.

The programme presents four of Bach's six keyboard concertos, with Fray directing the Bremen-based Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie from the piano. Fray’s lyrical performance, if this doesn't sound too contradictory, is full of youthful maturity; his intelligent phrasing and emotional language are what one would expect of a much older pianist, but they are presented with a healthy dose of Young Man vigour and fun. It is playing which carries the impression that something profound is being communicated. Then, there is Fray’s technical skill; making Bach's writing for keyboard sound effortless is the musical equivalent of being able to say Red-Lorry-Yellow-Lorry at lightening-quick speed with perfect diction without facial signs of trauma, so the ease at which he trips across some of these passages is at times astonishing.

Fray has said that, ''If, over my life, I can play all the works of Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Brahms and Schumann, then I shall be very happy!'' but describes Bach as, ''a pinnacle; both a beginning and an end''. He couldn't have made a better beginning, and I suspect that he will achieve the above and more besides. I can only await with baited breath the fruits of the next stage of his ambitious musical game plan.

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