Alexandra Papastefanou is one of the most prolific Greek pianists with a repertoire ranging from Bach to the 20th century repertoire, Ligeti, Takemitsu, and Stockhausen. Her interest in the music of J.S.Bach is a long term one , having performed all his keyboard works alongside an in depth lecture series of his compositions.
It comes therefore as no surprise to those who follow her carrier, a new recording of Bach’s cornerstone composition “The Well Tempered Clavier” for FHR, recorded at the Athens Conservatory in the Aris Garoufalis (another great Greek pianist) Concert Hall, with a Steinway Model D Piano.
It is not often to record Bach’s piano works for a modern piano, in contrast to Mozart and Beethoven’s piano works, the cembalo still holds a high place in the performer’s mind. However , many great recordings of Bach’s works exist on modern pianos , a favorite of mine is Koroliev’s “Goldberg Variations”, and I think that Papastefanou’s recent recording has carved a well deserved niche amongst those legendary recordings.
Tackling one of the most difficult compositions, a cornerstone in Western Music, Papastefanou performs not as an Academic, but as a true performer who has mainly in mind not to bore the listener. Her playing is live, natural, flowing without ever becoming sterile and pretentious. The melodic lines flow effortlessly, with grace, musicality and energy, wanting you to listen more and more. I actually heard this recording more than twice without ever getting tired or bored, it was like taking a trip to Bach’s monumental music. Above all the listener is entertained, and this, having in mind the nature of the work, is no mean feat . It reveals Papastefanou as a pianist with great technical knowledge and skill , a versatile pianist with great experience and deep knowledge of Bach’s music. This record is an answer to those who consider Bach’s music repetitive and boring.
The recording has a warm sound, never harsh, with a nice feeling of space, great ambience as if one is present at the Concert Hall, produced by the experienced Themis Zafeiropoulos (Location Sound) and mastered by John Christodoulatos.
The packaging is very sensible and easily accommodated to one’s record library even with four cd’s, aesthetically pleasing (Artwork by David Murphy) with beautiful photographs by Georgia Salambasi.
A must for all Bach lovers, this record will definitely hold a place of honor in my record library.
Looking forward to many more recordings of Bach from this talented and excellent pianist.
FHR Records. Recorded 24-25 April 2017 (book 1) and 3-10 December (book 2) at the Aris Garoufalis Concert Hall at the the Athens Conservatory.
4CD. 56:19, 60:11, 70:06, 76:35
Produced and engineered by Themis Zafeiropoulos
Mastered by John Christodoulatos
Fotos by Georgia Salambasi
Artwork by David Murphy