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This sixth volume in Hyperion’s voyage through the distinguished legacy of piano transcriptions of Bach masterpieces brings us to a fascinating programme presenting the twenty-five surviving transcriptions by Walter Rummel.
Pupil of Godowsky, friend of Debussy and favourably compared to Cortot and Horowitz, Rummel left us recordings instantly conveying that essential combination of robust articulation and sensitive flexibility which must inform the outlook of the master-transcriber. The majority of Rummel’s transcriptions turn away from the standard fare of organ preludes, rather delving into the immeasurable riches to be found among Bach’s choral works, and at the same time mastering the difficulties inherent in condensing the numerous musical lines of a choir and orchestra into a meaningful piano score.
Jonathan Plowright’s exquisite performances embody the tradition of that golden age of pianism from which these transcriptions emerged—in Rummel’s own words: ‘The composer bewitches music, holding it captive behind the prison of five lines; but the interpreter breaks the spell that holds the bewitched princess, he frees Music.’