When it came time for Johann Sebastian Bach to publish his Opus 1, what work do you think he picked? One of the sacred cantatas? One of the "Brandenburg Concertos"? One of the cello suites? No, none of the above. In 1726, Bach chose his "B flat major Partita" to start his publishing career -- and once a year for the next five years, he published five more partitas, then collected them under the title "Clavier-Übung" in 1731.
When it came time for Hungarian pianist András Schiff to make his major-label debut, what work do you think he picked? Yes, that's right. In 1985, Schiff released his recording of the complete partitas -- and followed it with many more Bach recordings over the next few years until he'd released nearly the complete canonical works by 1996.
And yes, Schiff's partitas are wonderful. Schiff has an elegant technique that never draws attention to itself no matter how knotty the notes, a graceful tone that always concentrates on the lyricism no matter how thick the counterpoint, and the consummate taste to know exactly how to place an accent, turn an appoggiatura, bend a phrase, and inflect a rhythm to make the music wholly his own without making it any less Bach's. In short, if you want Bach's partitas played on the piano, Schiff is your man. Reissued in 2007, Decca's early digital sound somehow seems warmer and richer than it did in 1985.