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Bach: Well-tempered Clavier Book 1 / Jill Crossland

Release Date: 06/24/2008 
Label:  Signum Classics   Catalog #: 113   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jill Crossland
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A searching look at these major and scholarly works of Bach.

Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier has to be one of the most searching pieces of writing, both as a compositional exercise and as one of the most testing of all performance vehicles for keyboard players.

While some are perfect miniatures, others are profound, soul-searching exercises which do much to put Bach’s very art into sharp perspective. This set of the pieces often referred to as the ‘48’ uses every note of the diatonic scale upon which to construct a prelude and a linked fugue and this recording, of Book One – the first complete 24 prelude and fugue cycle – is by the eminent and revered Bach interpreter Jill Crossland.

Read more purists amongst us might prefer these pieces performed on a harpsichord, the approach to the piano is not one of flamboyant Romanticism but a clear, pure vision of what Bach intended. From the gentle opening – possibly the most famous of all of these pieces: the C major prelude – to the impassioned, almost ferocious A minor prelude, to the fascination of the two-part invention of the D major with the sheer drama of its associated fugue, this is a great new interpretation of these seminal works.

Perhaps the most poignant of these interpretations is the truly heart-felt B flat minor Prelude, a fine performance which ekes out every ounce of pathos but builds into a massive, explosive climax. Then there’s an almost playful performance of the B major prelude, a bright key anyway, but made that much brighter by this powerful performance.

These are balanced, finely worked miniatures and a good introduction to this major work. There’s not a feeling of being on top of the piano but rather in a room and set at an appropriate distance. A highly fitting addition to any collection of piano repertoire but, perhaps more importantly, a searching look at these major and scholarly works of Bach.

-- Glyn Mon Hughes, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846-869 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Jill Crossland (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1722; Cöthen, Germany 

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