Diana Boyle – Bach: Works for Keyboard (2019) DSF DSD64 + Hi-Res FLAC

Diana Boyle – Bach: Works for Keyboard (2019)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,82 MHz | Time – 01:23:54 minutes | 3,31 GB
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 01:23:54 minutes | 1,27 GB
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Digital booklet | © Divine Art
Recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk, 20th-27th June 2018

If you have an aversion to Bach on a modern piano, you should hit the Back button now; these releases aren’t for you. I have paired them because of the proximity of their release dates, and the presence of BWV 831 on each allows a direct comparison of styles. Very different they are too, as a check on the timings for the Overture will suggest.

Diana Boyle is obviously a respected performer; otherwise, she wouldn’t have maintained a recording presence over two decades. However, I found her performance to be very hard going, and certainly very slow going. All tempos seem to be slow or slower. Yes, I am fully aware that JSB left no tempo markings for these works, meaning that performers have almost infinite scope for interpretation, but surely that doesn’t mean that all are equally successful. Almost all the movements in the Overture and Suite are dances but I can’t imagine anyone dancing to her leaden tempos. Every phrase is dragged out, separated by awkward silences that eliminate any dance rhythm. By way of illustration, for the opening section of the opening Ouverture of BWV 831, Boyle takes 5:52 to get to the following fugue; compare this with Mortensen’s 2:05 and Hewitt’s 2:46. Yes, timings aren’t always definitive, but they are here. When the fugue begins, Hewitt and Mortensen accelerate delightfully, Boyle continues to plod, crawl even.

John France has reviewed this Boyle release, and enjoyed it, while mentioning the slowness and worrying that the “dance elements of these works may get lost in a soft-focus haze”. Indeed! In the reviews of the two earlier releases, which I hadn’t read before requesting this or indeed before listening to it, the adjectives “unlikely”, “eccentric” (in both) and “theatrical” were used. Clearly Ms Boyle’s approach to Bach has remained consistent over the years, and I can respect that. I see that she has recorded the Goldbergs, my Desert Island music; there is scant chance that I will try her version.

Production values for each release are as one would hope. While I have seen a number of single CDs with durations of over 85 minutes, Divine Art opted for two discs. I think a more sensible approach would have been to omit one of the Sinfonias (perhaps make it available as a download), or ask Ms Boyle to record all of them, thus using the space better.
Mortensen’s Bach may not challenge the best, but it is a thoroughly listenable recital. Boyle’s, on the other hand, is for her fans; anyone coming to her for the first time needs to listen extensively to samples first.


Overture in the French Style, BWV 831
01 – I. Overture (14:23)
02 – II. Courante (1:49)
03 – III. Gavotte I (1:48)
04 – IV. Gavotte II (1:40)
05 – V. Da capo to Gavotte I (1:11)
06 – VI. Passepied I (1:21)
07 – VII. Passepied II (1:35)
08 – VIII. Da capo to Passepied I (1:17)
09 – IX. Sarabande (4:11)
10 – X. Bourrée I (1:36)
11 – XI. Bourrée II (1:08)
12 – XII. Gigue (2:25)
13 – XIII. Echo (2:29)

French Suite No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 812
14 – I. Allemande (2:30)
15 – II. Courante (2:14)
16 – III. Sarabande (6:28)
17 – IV. Menuet I (1:53)
18 – V. Menuet II (1:32)
19 – VI. Da capo to Menuet I (1:05)
20 – VII. Gigue (3:14)

15 Sinfonias (Excerpts)
21 – No. 5 in E-Flat Major, BWV 791 (4:01)
22 – No. 11 in G Minor, BWV 797 (3:04)
23 – No. 4 in D Minor, BWV 790 (2:22)
24 – No. 13 in A Minor, BWV 799 (1:55)
25 – No. 8 in F Major, BWV 794 (1:54)
26 – No. 7 in E Minor, BWV 793 (3:36)
27 – No. 6 in E Major, BWV 792 (2:30)
28 – No. 12 in A Major, BWV 798 (2:14)
29 – No. 9 in F Minor, BWV 795 (6:28)

Diana Boyle – Piano: Grotrian-Steinweg

Record Label: Divine Art
Catalogue No. DDA25190
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk, 20th-27th June 2018
Original Recording Format: PCM







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