Ms. Ishizaka kept things moving nicely and raised the energy level after intermission, occasionally rising to a touch of virtuosic flair, as in the A major Fugue, which she ended with a private little smile.
in all the years, all the versions, I have never heard "Book 1" done better than on the new recording by pianist Kimiko Ishizaka (Navona 5993, 2-CDs)
The results are fabulous. There is a great grace to what she gives us, a marvelous clarity, a sense of totality that is a very real joy to hear. She takes Bach at his word, that each part is important in the ultimate contrapuntal result. You hear Bach with new ears.
There have been other beautiful versions of "Book 1." This is up there with the very best. At the moment it is most certainly my favorite. Bravo, Kimiko Ishizaka! Onwards to "Book 2"!
Ishizaka vividly carves out the individual characteristics, contrasts, and relationships of the 48 pieces from the rather lyric sounding instrument ,and thus creates an comprehensible cyclic context that doesn't sound like it's coming from the ivory tower.
Some of the minor key fugues in particular were most glorious in their intensity. She was also open to the other-worldly and mysterious aspects of Bach's art, bringing out the strange intense worlds which some of the fugues go into
her superior legato technique created some exquisite cantabile playing, especially in the slow movements, while sprightly passagework and lively tempi gave the suggestion of the harpsichord in the rapid movements. Her sense of counterpoint was well-defined in the Fugues, with clear lines and distinct voices.