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Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier (on Organ) / Desenclos

Bach,J.s. / Desenclos
Release Date: 03/25/2014 
Label:  Alpha Productions   Catalog #: 819   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Frédéric Desenclos
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A veritable manifesto of the art of the keyboard at the time of Bach, this founding work of the Cantor's writing and also of all keyboard literature, is recorded here on four exceptional organs. Frédéric Desenclos's committed choice, this 'transition to the organ' of the 48 preludes and fugues, proves highly successful. Perhaps never before has the architecture of these gems of imagination and compositional skill appeared so clearly; perhaps never have the phrasing and tempo choices seemed so obvious; doubtless never has a complete recording imposed itself as a work in itself. This reading almost makes us forget the original destination of these works for harpsichord, the recording itself particularly accentuating the Read more registration work at the service of a wide variety of instrumental colour.



Rather than going through every piece it’s easier to sum up by highlighting my admiration for Desenclos’s delivery of a collection filled with delightful contrasts of sonority. Interest never falters, and if you like Bach’s organ music in general then it is the easiest thing in the world to accept this wonderful music into the canon. If you are not so keen on the organ but love the WTC then this probably won’t be for you, but I would still recommend giving it a try: it may after all become your passport into the wonderful world of Bach’s ‘real’ organ works. Are there any criticisms? Not really. On points of taste there are one or two pieces I like less than others, such as the rather choppy Fugue in C sharp major from Book II, but these would all be minor observations. This is a very fine Well-Tempered Clavier and goes way beyond experiment, taking some of the finest keyboard music ever written into stunning new realms.

– MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846-869 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Frédéric Desenclos (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1722; Cöthen, Germany 
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 870-893 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Frédéric Desenclos (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1742; Leipzig, Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Simply Outstanding . . . Captivating March 25, 2018 By John T. (Princess Anne, MD) See All My Reviews "Simply outstanding. I listen to these CD’s as much as possible, directly or as background music. Superb Bach music, of course; really superb organs; and a beyond superb organist—ranks with the best I’ve heard over the years. Four discs are not enough from those three combinations." Report Abuse
 Wonderful performance - Go for it! January 26, 2015 By Philip Goddard (Exeter, Devon) See All My Reviews "This was the only currently available recording I could find of the whole of the Well Tempered Clavier (WTC) - amazing that organists and record companies haven't been queueing up to record on the organ this great megawork in our musical repertoire, which is so clearly at least as amenable / suitable for the organ as for any of the keyboard instruments on which it is normally heard! I had already got a recording of Christoph Bossert performing Book 2 (only), which seemed to be truly excellent. This recording actually does suffer a bit from microphone placements that give too much prominence to the reverberant ambiance of the respective four organs (one per disc). Generally I welcome reverberant acoustics for organs, but, with contrapuntal music like this, clarity is of the essence. The Bossert recording is much better in that particular respect, with superb clarity. One other gripe, which I've seen in another review is Desenclos' rendering of the opening Prelude in C Major, where his held thirds underpinning each of the melodic ripples sound a bit crude and really needed a little inventiveness there to create a more subtle underpinning that would emphasize rather than obscure the 'ripples'. That was the 'Bad News', and now the Good News - and it IS good! Desenclos does a wonderful job in these recordings. I feel a great naturalness in his playing, which never gives me any impression of imposing the sorts of personal affectation that blight the majority of harpsichord and especially piano performances of the work. His tempi tend to be rather faster than in many performances (his Book 2 duration is some 42 minutes shorter than Bossert's), but he doesn't give me any impression of playing too fast. Rather, he gives a delightful freshness to the music, giving a sense of a life force with constant forward motion - rather than going into any 'dreaming' or 'plodding' mode. His choice of registrations tends to give more subdued sounds than in the Bossert recording - which adds a bit to the poor-clarity issue. However, by some means he moves me emotionally more than Bossert (i.e., in Book 2, where I can compare). Indeed, some of the fugues felt particularly awe-inspiring in Desenclos' hands, bringing tears to my eyes and making me feel quite shaken up - every bit as powerful a musical experience as I've ever had - and yet I could not identify any personal 'wallowing' he had been doing to achieve that. I also found that on my second listening I was much less bugged by the rather-poor-clarity issue - and in the opening prelude a particular saving grace was his taking that at a more lively pace than in so many performances, so that you could feel the melodic ripples really taking you forward in a purposeful manner rather than just dreaming and drifting. A wonderful bonus is that the four organs used each have their own NON-equal-temperament tuning, making the music sound more colourful and expressive than on equal-temperament organs. The best organs in that respect were those used on Discs 1 and 3. Naturally, the expressiveness of a piano can make something of the WTC that an organ cannot - but by the same token, the organ adds something magnificent that the piano or harpsichord can only hint at, so it makes sense to obtain recordings of both organ and piano versions. I wholeheartedly recommend this recording despite the issues that I have mentioned. I award the recording 5 stars because that includes a bonus star after my having docked one star for the clarity issue. That's how good I think this performance is!" Report Abuse
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