Zhu Xiao-Mei ranks among the greatest pianists of our times and is one of the most renowned interpreters of J. S. Bach’s music. The Goldberg Variations stood at the beginning of her international career and represent the ‘greatest musical encounter’ of her life. “It is a universal piece of music that knows no frontiers”, this is the message of her extraordinary playing which is being celebrated in concert halls around the world. Her unique interpretation has now been captured on DVD for the fi rst time. The live recording was produced at her critically acclaimed concert at the Leipzig Bach Festival 2014 at J. S. Bach’s final resting place in St. Thomas Church. Michel Mollard’s exquisite documentary “The Return is the Movement of Tao” complements the concert recording. Mollard accompanies the pianist on tour as well as to the reclusiveness of the French Alps and offers profound insights to the mind of a fascinating artist and her vision of the Goldberg Variations.
Even though Angela Hewitt's repertoire is quite extensive and diverse, encompassing the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern eras, her true specialty is the music of J.S. Bach, which she has recorded almost exclusively for Hyperion since the 1980s. With this recording of The Art of Fugue, Hewitt completes her long-running series of piano renditions of the solo keyboard works, and while not everyone is convinced that Bach composed this study of fugal techniques for the keyboard, Hewitt's performance is credible and satisfying. She controls the often unwieldy counterpoint by regarding the lines as if they were vocal parts, and her phrases are shaped by natural breathing points, as well as the different emotional qualities she brings to each fugue and canon. The Art of Fugue can be daunting for both performer and listener because its persistent tonality of D minor and monothematic material can be quite tedious in the wrong hands.