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Bach: Keyboard Works / Kenneth Gilbert


Release Date: 01/27/2015 
Label:  Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog #: 002244402   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth GilbertTrevor PinnockLars Ulrik MortensenNicholas Kraemer
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Number of Discs: 10 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

All Kenneth Gilbert’s acclaimed Bach recordings for Archiv Produktion are collected here, including his “precious...classic” (Fanfare) the complete Well-Tempered Clavier – hailed as “a major achievement...full of elegance, clarity and lyricism” (Gramophone) that “supplants all existing harpsichord versions” (Penguin Guide).

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

The Art of Fugue
Nicholas Anderson The Art of Fugue or ''complete practical fugal work'', as C. P. E. Bach described his father's giant contrapuntal achievement, is well represented in the current recording catalogue. The approaches to it vary considerably with performances on solo keyboard—harpsichord
Read more and organ—and mixed ensembles with markedly different shades of instrument colour. Varied too, is the sequence in which the performers play the fugal parts which comprise the whole. Some complete the final fugue, some do not; some find a place for all the pieces included in the posthumous original edition of 1751, others have given reasons for omitting those which seem not to play a directly relevant part in Bach's scheme. Kenneth Gilbert leads us down another fascinating path his performance on a solo harpsichord follows not the 1751 printed edition but Bach's own autograph material differing from the other both in content and layout.

In a lucid, informative essay, the Bach scholar Christoph Wolff lays before the reader the chief differences between the sources, and in the course of doing so arrives at interesting conclusions relating both to Bach's intentions and to the extended period of time over which he was intermittently occupied with this great project. The autograph material which forms the basis of this performance falls into two sections—a self-contained volume in open score consisting of 12 fugues and two canons in fair copy and a supplement consisting of revisions and newly-composed pieces. Gilbert only plays the music in the self-contained volume following the order in which the pieces are numbered: three fugues in simple counterpoint five fugues in double counterpoint; two canons and two mirror fugues with their inversions. Thus we arrive at four fewer movements than the 1751 printed version. Those omitted from the autograph correspond with the Neue Bach-Ausgabe edition Nos. 4 (Contrapunctus IV), 16, 17 (Canon alla decima/Canon alla duodecima) and 18 (the so-called ''Fuga a 3 Soggetti'' whose place in the musical scheme of The Art of Fugue has been challenged by Gustav Leonhardt and others but more recently defended).

Gilbert's playing is disciplined with a rigour that complements the character of Bach's contrapuntal design. A certain stiffness in his approach which would be less welcome elsewhere, gives his reading a deliberate emphasis which suits the majority of the fugues. Yet I felt the need for less deliberation than that with which Gilbert treats the two concluding mirror fugues (Neue Bach-Ausgabe Nos. 12 and 13). Didactic they are, certainly, but it is the spirit of the dance which has the upper hand here and I longed for a more light-hearted approach. Nevertheless, this is an impressive recital and no admirer of Bach's profound science will feel justified in passing it by. The recording is clear, the documentation informative and the harpsichord itself a fine-sounding Flemish one of the late seventeenth century enlarged by Blanchet and Taskin well into the following one. A stimulating release.

– Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone [4/1990]

The Well-Tempered Clavier
Recorded in 1983, Kenneth Gilbert’s Well-Tempered Clavier proudly stands the test of time as a reference harpsichord version. For starters, the combination of the Musée de Chartres’ resonant acoustic and the dulcet yet full-bodied instrument based on a 17th-century Flemish model results in an attractively warm and realistic recorded ambience. Secondly, Gilbert’s refined technique and subtle musicianship bring life and meaning to every selection.

His generally moderate tempos are straightforward yet never rigidly held, inflected with more variety of articulation than might meet the ear on first hearing, and without the mannered agogic stresses that other scholarly harpsichordists trot out in the name of “style”. Book 1’s D major, E major, G-sharp minor, and A major Preludes support my point, while rhythmic vitality and clear voice-leading give shapely distinction to Book 2’s C major, D minor, and F-sharp major Fugues. Although Gilbert’s registrations are more restrained in comparison to, say, Leonhardt, Verlet, and Schorsheim, he does manage to sneak in more than a few effective octave doublings throughout Book 2, as well as pull out a few virtuosic stops when he deems them appropriate, as in Book 1’s scintillating B-flat major Prelude.

Although DG reissued this cycle in separate books, Arkivmusic.com’s on-demand reprint replicates the original four-disc release down to the extensive booklet notes by Davitt Moroney, who also tuned Gilbert’s harpsichord to equal temperament (albeit at lower pitch than today’s standard) and would go on to record his own highly regarded cycle of the so-called “48” for Harmonia Mundi. It may be presumptuous to rank Gilbert’s “48” at the absolute top, yet his artistic consistency and integrity, along with DG’s marvelous sonics, continue to hold attention after many repeated hearings.

– Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com

Capriccio, Toccatas
So strong and so prevalent is the image of Bach the solid bourgeois, the revered master, the father of a score of children, that it is easy to lose sight of him as the brilliant, self-confident but headstrong youth. The works in this excellent issue, played on a fine Couchet-Blanchet-Taskin instrument in the resonant (but not excessively so) acoustics of the Chartres museum, were all written in his younger days––the Capriccio (one of his very earliest extant keyboard compositions) in his late teens when an elder brother went off to Sweden (and thence to Constantinople), the three Toccatas before the age of 25, the Aria variata (his only set of variations other than the late Goldberg) and the A minor Prelude and Fugue (the one he was to rework for the Triple Concerto) by 30. The influences on him are still evident: Kuhnau's programmatic Biblical sonatas for the Capriccio (whose most striking movements are a lament on a ground bass and the air imitating the postillion's posthorn); Buxtehude, plus Italian and French features, for the sectional Toccatas; Bohm and Vivaldi respectively for the other two works. The Italian commentator here, but not the other language writers, interestingly postulates a violin origin for the Aria variata which except for the theme and the final variation is almost entirely in only two parts.

Kenneth Gilbert's performances are a delight, with his arresting treatment of quasi-improvisatory passages in the Toccatas (though even he cannot disguise Bach's overlong mechanical sequences in the F sharp minor work), his clarity and his lively but steady rhythmic drive in the long fugues (the C minor, which turns into a double-figure, the most extensive of all). Only in the F sharp minor's final fugue did I feel the tempo he adopts too stolid: otherwise the warmest of recommendations for this disc.

– Lionel Salter, Gramophone [6/1993]

Preludes
Everyone who has sat at a piano stool at a tender age will find old friends amongst the pieces comprising this delightful anthology. Kenneth Gilbert has arranged his programme in four parts. First he plays the eight Preludes, BWV924-31, of the Clavier-Buchlein which Bach compiled in 1720 for his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, then aged ten; he follows these with the Six Little Preludes, BWV933-8, and five further Preludes, BWV939-43. A sixth in C minor, BWV999, is also included but was evidently intended for lute. These, like the 1720 pieces, probably belong to the Cothen period. The fourth part of Gilbert's recital consists of pieces on a larger scale. The two Preludes and little fugues, BWV901-02, also date from Cothen. The Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in Eflat, BWV998, is primarily a lute work, and is included in the same volume of the Neue Bachausgabe as BWV999. Where the Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, BWV904, is concerned, one surviving source implies an organ work whilst another the harpsichord. It is also possible that the two pieces may not always have belonged together. Sometimes ascribed to Bach's Cothen period it would seem to me to belong to an altogether later date.

Kenneth Gilbert gives a lively and affectionate account of the smaller pieces whose substance, nevertheless, should not be underestimated. In the larger works his technique and experience contribute towards fluent and cogent readings. Above all, perhaps, he captures the deliberately archaic character of BWV904 with forceful and deliberate gestures in the Fantasia and with clarity of thought in the fine double fugue. This didactic side of Gilbert's artistry also serves the little Preludes whose purpose was not only to entertain but also to instruct. The harpsichord, a seventeenth-century Flemish instrument enlarged first by Blanchet and then by Taskin in the following century, is that which Gilbert used for his recording of the 48 (Archiv 413 439-1AH5, 9/84). It's a fine-sounding instrument whose character has been well captured in this recital. Warmly recommended.

– Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone [12/1986]

Concertos
"The double, triple and quadruple concertos are digital, and the combination of period instruments and playing of determined vigour certainly makes a bold effect."

– Penguin Guide to Compact Discs & DVDs - 2005/06 Edition
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Works on This Recording

1.
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846-869 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1722; Cöthen, Germany 
2.
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 870-893 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1742; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
4.
Capriccio in B flat major on the Departure of his Most Beloved Brother, BWV 992 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1704; Arnstadt, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1992 
Venue:  Salle Italienne, Chartres 
Length: 10 Minutes 36 Secs. 
5.
Toccata in G minor, BWV 915 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1992 
Venue:  Salle Italienne, Chartres 
Length: 9 Minutes 6 Secs. 
6.
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 894 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1992 
Venue:  Salle Italienne, Chartres 
Length: 10 Minutes 42 Secs. 
7.
Toccata in C minor, BWV 911 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1992 
Venue:  Salle Italienne, Chartres 
Length: 11 Minutes 21 Secs. 
8.
Toccata in F sharp minor, BWV 910 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1710 ; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1992 
Venue:  Salle Italienne, Chartres 
Length: 11 Minutes 38 Secs. 
9.
Aria Variata in a, BWV 989 "In the Italian Style" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1714; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1992 
Venue:  Salle Italienne, Chartres 
Length: 15 Minutes 50 Secs. 
10.
The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1745-1750; Leipzig, Germany 
11.
Two-Part Inventions (15), BWV 772-786 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Cöthen, Germany 
12.
Three-Part Inventions (15), BWV 787-801 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Cöthen, Germany 
13.
Prelude in C major, BWV 924 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
14.
Prelude and Fughetta in F major, BWV 901 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
15.
Praeambulum in G minor, BWV 930 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
16.
Prelude and Fughetta in G major, BWV 902 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
17.
Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, BWV 904 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1725; Leipzig, Germany 
18.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro for Lute in E flat major, BWV 998 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1740; Leipzig, Germany 
19.
Prelude in D major, BWV 925 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
20.
Prelude in D minor, BWV 926 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
21.
Praeambulum in F major, BWV 927 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
22.
Prelude in F major, BWV 928 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: after 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
23.
Prelude in G minor, BWV 929 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
24.
Little Preludes (6): no 1 in C major, BWV 933 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
25.
Little Preludes (6): no 2 in C minor, BWV 934 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
26.
Little Preludes (6): no 3 in D minor, BWV 935 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
27.
Little Preludes (6): no 4 in D major, BWV 936 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
28.
Little Preludes (6): no 5 in E major, BWV 937 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
29.
Little Preludes (6): no 6 in E minor, BWV 938 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
30.
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C major, BWV 1061 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord), Trevor Pinnock (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
31.
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1062 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord), Trevor Pinnock (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
32.
Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in D minor, BWV 1063 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Trevor Pinnock (Harpsichord), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
33.
Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in C major, BWV 1064 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Trevor Pinnock (Harpsichord), Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord), Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
34.
Concerto for 4 Harpsichords in A minor, BWV 1065 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nicholas Kraemer (Harpsichord), Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord), Trevor Pinnock (Harpsichord),
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
35.
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1060 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Trevor Pinnock (Harpsichord), Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Trevor Pinnock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Concert
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
36.
Prelude for Lute in C minor, BWV 999 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
37.
Prelude in E minor, BWV 941 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
38.
Prelude in D minor, BWV 940 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
39.
Prelude in C major, BWV 943 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
40.
Prelude in A minor, BWV 942 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
41.
Prelude in C major, BWV 939 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
42.
Prelude in A minor, BWV 931 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kenneth Gilbert (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 

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