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Culture watch: Bach 5 Keyboard Concertos

August 31, 2011 |  6:00 am

Bach 5 Piano Concerti Bach: 5 Keyboard Concertos

(Decca)

Thirty-four-year-old Iranian pianist Ramin Bahrami went to study in Italy as a teenager shortly before his father, a political victim of the regime, died in jail. Bach, the pianist told an Italian newspaper, saved his life.  And that is how he plays Bach's first five piano concertos,  as matters of life and death.

Some of the movements, with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, conducted with extraordinary vitality by Riccardo Chailly, set out to break speed records (five concerti on a single CD is a feat).  The performances have a rhythmic litheness that makes you want to get up and dance. But Bahrami also has a mystical side. The slow movement to the F Minor concerto is out of this world.

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-- Mark Swed

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