Toccatas and Fantasies
JS Bach: Toccatas, BWV 910-916; CPE Bach: Fantasy in E flat; Peter Seabourne: Toccatas Nos. 1-6; fantasies
Konstantin Lifschitz (piano)
Willowhayne WHR073 144:49 min (2 discs)
Peter Seabourne, interviewed for the May issue of this magazine, stressed the importance of collaboration, valuing “the opportunity to work with specific artists”. In the sixth of his nine-part solo piano cycle Not, we hear Seabourne’s friend, pianist Konstantin Lifschitz. In December 2019, Lifschitz premiered Seabourne’s Toccatas and Fantasias, juxtaposing them with works by JS Bach and CPE Bach. Documenting this program in sound, Willowhayne Records allows listeners to once again hear the canonical repertoire of the 18th century.
In the two-CD set, seven of JS Bach’s toccatas and CPE Bach’s Fantasia H348 in E-flat are intertwined with six toccatas and six Seabourne fantasies. Lifschitz’s virtuoso readings comfortably meet Seabourne’s demands. We note the “exceptionally difficult music” in Seabourne’s Fourth Toccata, which ventures beyond a study of touch, exploring rhythmic and melodic elements. Lifschitz captures the drama and introspection of Seabourne’s Toccata No. 1 and the welcome delicacy of Fantasia Malinconica. Lifschitz’s reimagining of CPE Bach’s groundbreaking E-flat Fantasia utilizes the dynamic power of the modern concert grand piano.
Among the works of Bach senior, the Toccatas in D major and D minor are heard in convincing interpretations. In this august company, Seabourne’s music sometimes fails, lacking the timbral ingenuity of Albany Records’ selection of toccatas (2009). Nevertheless, his fruitful partnerships with several pianists and Willowhayne must be acknowledged. Some discrepancies between the track listing on page two and the notes themselves suggest that more diligent proofreading is needed.