[ALBUM REVIEW] The Brandenburg Duets, Eleonor Bindman and Jenny Lin

Eleonor Bindman

Eleonor Bindman

Bach expert and pianist Eleonor Bindman fastidiously transcribed and released a recording of Bach’s beloved Brandenburg Concertos for piano four-hands on the Naxos/Grand Piano label that will stand the test of time.

The Brandenburg Duets were completed and recorded in 2017 and released on March 9, 2018. Standing as a welcomed addition to pianists’ transcribed repertory, it replaces Max Reger’s difficult version from more than 120 years ago. Brava to Bindman for successfully tackling this enormous feat!

Bach initially devised these works over a timespan of several years for six solo instrument groupings. To conserve the integrity and soul of Bach’s works, Bindman used the modern piano’s ability to express and translate each individual instrument’s score and character.

Throughout the transcription creation process, Bindman’s main intent was to reimagine how Bach would have delivered the score if he had planned to create four-part inventions for piano duet.

For the recorded duets, Bindman partnered with dynamic Taiwanese-born American pianist Jenny Lin, who’s known and respected for her adventurous programming. Lin provided Bindman the perfect companion to preserve and enhance the polyphony of Bach’s work. Equal partnership of two excellent pianists was required to convey and reinforce the core of Bach’s concertos. In this recording, both pianists certainly achieved this.

To retain the Baroque sensibilities of Bach’s work, Bindman had to ensure that individual lines were not only visually clear, but aurally clear to listeners. Using the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra’s chamber sound as a reference, Bindman restored the hierarchy and balance of sound. The result is a beautiful creation effect—elegant, modern, and nuanced translation of Bach’s work.

Bindman once again displays her “impressive clarity of purpose and full grasp of the music’s spirit” (The New York Times) through her passionate and devoted transcription and recording of Bach’s famed Brandenburg Concertos. Through every key stroke, Bindman and Lin display a seamless and harmonious partnership and pour all their passion, vitality, and joy into each of the six concertos for piano four-hands.

Overall, Bindman and Lin harken a world defined by powerful and imaginative nuance.

Highlights of the recording come at the very beginning. Brisk, playful, and hypnotic lament—the first two movements of Duet 1: F Major BMV 1046, I. Allegro Moderato and II. Adagio are standout tracks.

The Brandenburg Duets (recording and some select transcribed scores) are available on eleonorbindman.com. The recording is available through Grand Piano Records, Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, and ArkivMusic.