Author Topic: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier  (Read 152166 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Forever Electoral College

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 100
  • Location: U.S.A.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Eric Dolphy, Persian music, Sorabji, Scriabin, Sex Pistols
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1320 on: April 11, 2017, 07:29:06 PM »
Same. Beautiful Ruckers, great sound. Liked it, got bored, put it down. Too busy listening to Leonhardt, Rubsam, Asperen, and Verlet to ever pick it up again.

I haven't listened to Verlet. I will check it out. Thank you. While I love the recording by Leon, I like Belder as well. But his recording is not flamboyant or idiosyncratic.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8281
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1321 on: April 11, 2017, 09:36:15 PM »
I listened to Rousset play the second book again last night. I must say, the harpsichord sounds wonderful! The music does sound good on Flemish instruments like this, and the sound engineer deserves a pay rise for capturing it so well.

The performances are on the whole unsurprising - mainstream HIP - as far as I can see. Über mainstream HIP.

The booklet essay is particularly illuminating on his approach. He says that, because Bach has given no indication about the character of the music, he has concluded that the pieces in WTC 2 are abstract, and that they demand a neutral approach. He says he hopes that he has, nevertheless, managed to make them sound humane. Rousset's little essay is well worth reading.

When it was released, I was hoping that Rousset's experience in opera would inspire him to give a particularly dramatic account of the music, lyrical, full of fantasy and passionate intensity.

But no.

Nevertheless there's a lot of pleasure to be had from these straight performances, I don't think the makes the music sound stiff or earth-bound.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 09:52:16 PM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Online Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 13919
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1322 on: April 11, 2017, 09:47:29 PM »
Why surprising?

No fancy stuff. Extraordinarily ordinary. The quintessence of ordinariness. He makes me think of Gulda's Beethoven.

Good sound engineering, nice instrument.
Same. Beautiful Ruckers, great sound. Liked it, got bored, put it down. Too busy listening to Leonhardt, Rubsam, Asperen, and Verlet to ever pick it up again.

Surprising because it is not what you might expect from Rousset.
This is in his matured style that I first encountered in his Louis Couperin set. It is,  in comparison to Rousset's earlier, rather dashing Bach, relatively restrained with an emotional sobriety about it, dignified. Though Rousset's virtuosic style is still there, it is more in the background.

I kindly disagree on the "boring" comment, on the contrary: these are pretty "deep" interpretations and not matter-of-fact at all.
Perhaps a bit idiosyncratic...

If anything, my biggest regret is that the recordings do not have the same luxurious sound stage as his recordings for Ambroisie.
Acoustics are a tad harsh(er) here, IMO. Though less so in Book II.

The Belder set is on the shopping list - it sounded very promising.
After that, I'm not sure how many more WTC sets I need...... ::) Though I will gladly make an exception for Léon Berben, when he gets to it... :D

Q
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 09:52:43 PM by Que »
À chacun son goût.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8281
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1323 on: April 11, 2017, 09:54:22 PM »
Surprising because it is not what you might expect from Rousset.
This is in his matured style that I first encountered in his Louis Couperin set. It is,  in comparison to Rousset's earlier, rather dashing Bach, relatively restrained with an emotional sobriety about it, dignified. Though Rousset's virtuosic style is still there, it is more in the background.

I kindly disagree on the "boring" comment, on the contrary: these are pretty "deep" interpretations and not matter-of-fact at all.
Perhaps a bit idiosyncratic...

If anything, my biggest regret is that the recordings do not have the same luxurious sound stage as his recordings for Ambroisie.
Acoustics are a tad harsh(er) here, IMO. Though less so in Book II.

The Belder set is on the shopping list - it sounded very promising.
After that, I'm not sure how many more WTC sets I need...... ::) Though I will gladly make an exception for Léon Berben, when he gets to it... :D

Q

I just added something about the booklet essay that Rousset wrote for the second book que, I'd quite like to copy the essay here because it's interesting. I haven't heard his WTC 1, it may be very different.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8281
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1324 on: April 11, 2017, 10:24:19 PM »
Quote from: Christophe Rousset in the booklet of his WTC2
Anyone who plays the harpsichord is confronted from the earliest age with the complex and fascinating world of J. S. Bach. Budding musicians start out with the Notenbüchlein for Anna Magdalena, the little preludes and fughettas written for Wilhelm Friedemann, the two- part inventions and three-part sinfonias, before turning to the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier. And once they have got through that they will move on to some of the pieces of the second volume.

Such was the case for me. I remember my weekly study of a prelude and fugue from the first book as unforgettable moments of discovery, and still feel the joy aroused by that technical, intellectual and musical exercise. The prel- udes represented for me the more or less intricate paths through the composer’s harmonic world – the appealing little clockwork patterns that everyone knows at least from the famous C major Prelude of book I. The fugues were the superimposed parts forming ideal architectures, sometimes in three parts, when it was a good week, in four or five parts, for the most complex of them.

The joy of discovering such true gems is no less present in the second book, but the length of the pieces, the complex- ity of the structures, the boldness of the harmonic courses, the density of the textures turn them into an obstacle race. Just reading through a new piece is hard enough, with the remote keys giving rise to modulations that verge on atonality. The sheer length of the pieces makes the study of most of them a rather athletic exercise. Now that I have played all of Bach’s harpsichord music – his three cycles of suites, the Clavier-Übung, his concertos and sonatas, and all of his pedagogical works – it is quite obvious to me that the second book of the Well-Tempered Clavier is a summit. And for anyone who tackles it systematically, it is a real challenge. Beyond the arduousness of the approach, the interpretation of these gems is an equally complex problem for key- board players. Indeed, Bach never gives any indication of character, and very rarely of tempo. Which does not mean they should be seen as character pieces. Everything in them seems abstract. One of the acute problems raised in this volume in particular is that of the place of the performer. The powerful gestures, the abstract purpose, the extremely intellectual, strict, inflexible forms lead one to withdraw any subjective intent, and to adopt a more respectful, neutral approach than in any other of Bach’s works (except, of course, The Art of Fugue). Nevertheless, it was the same Bach who wrote the Partitas or the Goldberg Variations, with their wealth of affect and expression. Performers have to find their own way up this steep path through a dense and enchanted forest. Which is what I have attempted to do in this version. Bach often wrote “soli deo gloria” at the end of his manuscripts. This phrase could be seen as a way of identifying with God, though the composer is more likely claiming to be the instrument of a stronger will guiding his hand. But Bach, despite being Bach, was also human, and probably a great performer of his own compositions. And the performer needs to appropriate and humanise an abstract material that, without a musician willing to offer it to an audience, would remain a dead letter. It is no mean task to humanise music which is so exacting, but I have tried, and it is a remarkable experience to see the passion and the flesh begin to show through in these marble monuments. No angel sings the arias of his cantatas, nor does a deity sit at the keyboard to play a fugue. The whole of the human aspect that is central to the relation- ship between the performer and the listener needs to be addressed, even in a six-page fugue in B flat minor!

I have obviously not attempted to give an objective, encyclopaedic performance – which, to my mind, would be a vain undertak- ing. I have tried instead to find all the possible referents in Bach himself, and sometimes in his sons, in order to create contrast in the forty-eight pieces of this book.

Bach’s autograph manuscript of book II is preserved in London’s British Library. The basis for the present recording is however a later version of these pieces, beyond all doubt originating from Bach himself, which has reached us in a copy made by Bach’s pupil (and son-in-law) Johann Christoph Altnickol. It contains numerous improvements on the text, attractive ornamentation, devel- opments of up to fifteen new bars that irresistibly enlarge the gesture and the form – so much so that the original version of the piece as it appears in the autograph manuscript is often ignored both by publish- ers and performers.

The following is a brief overview of book II . . .
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 10:30:24 PM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8281
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1325 on: April 12, 2017, 01:56:09 AM »
Quote
The whole of the human aspect that is central to the relation- ship between the performer and the listener needs to be addressed, even in a six-page fugue in B flat minor!

That's sounds like he's asking us to measure his art by BWV 891 fugue.

In my experience, extended contrapuntal music like this on harpsichord demands independent voices and a dramatic rapport among the voices, that's what it needs to give it a life which comes from the inside of the music.

I'm not totally convinced that he pulls it off. His delicate classicism is nice at the start, but I feel that as the fugue develops the music becomes too heavy, thick, airless, and it dies,  because of the dryness, the soullessness, of his voicing.

This should go without saying: I'm not sure about any of this, I may change my mind tomorrow.


« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 07:50:12 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1656
  • Location: usa
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1326 on: April 12, 2017, 02:00:41 AM »
I listened to Rousset play the second book again last night. I must say, the harpsichord sounds wonderful! The music does sound good on Flemish instruments like this, and the sound engineer deserves a pay rise for capturing it so well.

The performances are on the whole unsurprising - mainstream HIP - as far as I can see. Über mainstream HIP.

The booklet essay is particularly illuminating on his approach. He says that, because Bach has given no indication about the character of the music, he has concluded that the pieces in WTC 2 are abstract, and that they demand a neutral approach. He says he hopes that he has, nevertheless, managed to make them sound humane. Rousset's little essay is well worth reading.

When it was released, I was hoping that Rousset's experience in opera would inspire him to give a particularly dramatic account of the music, lyrical, full of fantasy and passionate intensity.

But no.

Nevertheless there's a lot of pleasure to be had from these straight performances, I don't think the makes the music sound stiff or earth-bound.
I'm curious if you've heard Christine Schornsheim's set and what you might think? I'm finding a lot of grandeur in Rousett and a darker edge. For example, in B1's Gmajor fugue, Schornsheim is joyful and Levin is positively sunny. Rousett holds onto the notes longer and produces are more serious ominous effect. I want to say it's more religious sounding. I'm hearing a lot of character in the Rousett and, honestly, I've not found his other Bach, like his partitas, that interesting.

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1656
  • Location: usa
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1327 on: April 12, 2017, 02:07:33 AM »
That's sounds like he's asking us to measure his art by BWV 691 fugue.

In my experience, extended contrapuntal music like this on harpsichord demands independent voices and a dramatic rapport among the voices, that's what it needs to give it a life which comes from the inside of the music.

I'm not totally convinced that he pulls it off. His delicate classicism is nice at the start, but I feel that as the fugue develops the music becomes too heavy, thick, airless, and it dies,  because of the dryness, the soullessness, of his voicing.

This should go without saying: I'm not sure about any of this, I may change my mind tomorrow.
I'm surprised by this. I do find it heavy. But far from soulless.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8281
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1328 on: April 12, 2017, 09:08:25 AM »
I'm surprised by this. I do find it heavy. But far from soulless.

Well I tried again, but no. Rousset's 891 fugue is not my cup of tea. If you're still interested in quasi-romantic piano performances of Bach be sure to check Sokolov in that fugue, there was a good recorded performance from Salzburg about 5 years ago now, if you can't find it I can upload it for you.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 09:11:06 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Online Que

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 13919
  • "One HIP dude"
  • Location: The Hague, Netherlands
  • Currently Listening to:
    Still nuts about harpsichord music and exploring Early Music.
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1329 on: April 12, 2017, 09:36:43 AM »
Quote from: milk [b
[/b]link=topic=768.msg1055005#msg1055005 date=1491991241]
I'm finding a lot of grandeur in Rou            sett and a darker edge. For example, in B1's Gmajor fugue [...] Rousett holds onto the notes longer and produces are more serious ominous effect. I want to say it's more religious sounding. I'm hearing a lot of character in the Rousett and, honestly, I've not found his other Bach, like his partitas, that interesting.

Matches my own impressions. ..I called it dignified, restrained, "deep"... but it is basically the same.  :)

Whether Rousset will end up at the very top of my favourite WTC's, is another matter.....
Rousset's take is speciaI and personal but I feel Glen Wilson is not easy to match...

Q
À chacun son goût.

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1656
  • Location: usa
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1330 on: April 12, 2017, 04:46:35 PM »
Well I tried again, but no. Rousset's 891 fugue is not my cup of tea. If you're still interested in quasi-romantic piano performances of Bach be sure to check Sokolov in that fugue, there was a good recorded performance from Salzburg about 5 years ago now, if you can't find it I can upload it for you.
I'm definitely going to search out Solokov. Thanks. I find that there are so many ways to play WTC and I like to hear the romantic take on it. I'm still enjoying Demus, Fischer and Feinberg. I do not feel the same way about the French or Partitas, which seem more idiomatic to me.

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1656
  • Location: usa
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1331 on: April 12, 2017, 09:57:57 PM »
Well I tried again, but no. Rousset's 891 fugue is not my cup of tea. If you're still interested in quasi-romantic piano performances of Bach be sure to check Sokolov in that fugue, there was a good recorded performance from Salzburg about 5 years ago now, if you can't find it I can upload it for you.
I can find this on youtube. I like how he builds up and then takes down. It's interesting how WTC, for me, benefits from pianism in this way. I like the imagination. There are little moments of quietude and relief, and then a storm. There's a story to it almost. 

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8281
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1332 on: April 13, 2017, 12:12:49 AM »
I can find this on youtube. I like how he builds up and then takes down. It's interesting how WTC, for me, benefits from pianism in this way. I like the imagination. There are little moments of quietude and relief, and then a storm. There's a story to it almost.

And it may be the case that the B minor fugue in book 2 really is best suited not to harpsichord but to piano or clavichord or organ.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Forever Electoral College

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 100
  • Location: U.S.A.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Eric Dolphy, Persian music, Sorabji, Scriabin, Sex Pistols
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1333 on: May 27, 2017, 09:17:24 AM »
Good effort and novel sound.

Offline (: premont :)

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5794
Tiden læger alle sår,
heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8281
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1335 on: August 05, 2017, 01:18:09 PM »


Dantone's may well be the most swaggering, extrovert and macho WTC2 in the universe. It's like one big muscular gesture after another. And sometimes, often, he underarticulates to boot. A bracing and lively Italian sounding harpsichord, recorded unrealistically closely.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 01:24:34 PM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1656
  • Location: usa
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #1336 on: October 14, 2017, 06:50:27 AM »

I think I underestimated this set in the past. Tilney is a great musician I think. He has his own voice to contribute, on all his endeavors. In his WTC, the music sings. It's not dry, like I once thought it was. I haven't re-listened to it all. But I'm doing it little by little. Both clavichord in B1 and harpsichord, from what I've listened to, show this singing with slower tempos, some sensitivity, maybe not an emphasis on the contrapuntal lines as much as on gracefulness and melody.     

Buying Music From Amazon?
Please consider using these links. A small percentage of every sale using these links is passed on to GMG and helps keep this forum online.
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK