This is the second CD by the young German pianist David Theodor Schmidt playing music by Bach and music inspired by Bach. In the first CD from 2007 Bach Reflections he played the Sixth Partita, the 12th of the preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, plus one of the Shostakovich Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues and the Liszt 'Variations on a motif by Bach ("Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen")'. I was somewhat critical of that earlier disc although I did feel that Schmidt is a talented newcomer to watch. I thought his playing was a bit callow and hoped he might mature. In this CD that hope has been fulfilled. I find this disc, which contains the Keyboard Partitas Nos. 1 & 2 along with Liszt's arrangements of Three Preludes and Fugues for Organ (BWV546, 547 & 543) to be, on the whole, breathtaking in its Schmidt's clarity, expressiveness and gorgeous light but intense touch. (He is playing a beautifully regulated piano that I'm guessing is a Hamburg Steinway.)
Schmidt does not forget that the movements of the two partitas are dances. This is particularly evident in the Second Partita's rollicking Capriccio and the First's Menuetto and Allemande. The First Partita's Sarabande is majestic, reminding me rather much of Perahia's grand approach Bach: Partitas No. 1, 5 & 6 . Voicing and phrasing is spot on and one never has any concerns about what is going on structurally. The only quibble I would have is that in some of the faster movements there can be some momentary tempo instability which I do not believe is in the service of expression but rather a result of momentary inattention on the pianist's part, but this is a minor complaint and does not take away from the overall very positive impression the pianist makes.
The recording was made in the SWR Stuttgart Chamber Music Studio in July 2010. Recorded sound is utterly lovely. Kudos not only to the pianist but to the production team from Profil Hänssler.