Distinguished Bach specialist Sir András Schiff returned to the BBC Proms in 2018 to present Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier. Extending the variety already evident in Book I (available on 2.110653), Bach’s effortless brilliance and new-found sonorities push harmony and counterpoint further than ever with a combination of ancient and modern styles, church austerity and gallant lightness. Schiff has said that ‘no-one combines the sacred and the secular as Bach does’, and this is comprehensivelyRead more demonstrated in Bach’s fascinating and challenging sequence. This performance in the Royal Albert Hall was described as ‘a musical meditation for our troubled times’ by the Independent.
Last month I mentioned how astonishing it was that András Schiff performed Bach’s entire Well-Tempered Klavier, Book I, at the 2017 BBC Proms completely from memory. Now there’s Schiff’s playing Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, at the 2018 BBC Proms, and — if it’s even possible—it’s even more incredible that, once again, Schiff plays the entire 140-minute work from memory. Bach’s preludes and variations are enough to tax any pianist, but Schiff plays one of our greatest composers’ greatest works with artistry and graceful calm. Hi-def video and audio are excellent.