RECENTLY DISCUSSED ON GMG - Click to see details on Amazon. All sales from these links support your forum.

Author Topic: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier  (Read 83731 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline (: premont :)

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3611
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #960 on: May 11, 2012, 08:26:37 AM »
Interesting. I was just sampling the Frédéric Desenclos (after reading your post). I'm wondering, how drawn are you to this music played on organ?
Does it all work well this way? Does it add to your enjoyment of the WTC? I love Levin's limited use of organ on his recording (but I also love the variety of instruments therein).

I think it generally works well on organ, but some of the P&F´s work better than others (e.g. a-minor form Book I, E-major and  B flat-minor from Book II). All in all though I prefer the work played on harpsichord. Being fed up with the work on harpsichord I may however be biased. In Bach´s time it was natural to play keyboard works like this on the keyboard instrument one had at hand. Levin and Chorzempa play only some of the P&F´s on organ - obviously the ones they think are suited for organ. If you want, I can make a small survey of their recordings as to which instrument they use in which pieces.


Offline DavidRoss

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7575
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #961 on: May 11, 2012, 08:04:00 PM »
What happened to Don? I see he quit the site recently.
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline Sammy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 918
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach and Miaskovsky
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #962 on: May 11, 2012, 08:52:17 PM »
What happened to Don? I see he quit the site recently.

I'm still here; just changed my name.  Being in the Witness Protection Program has its disadvantages. ;D

Offline DavidRoss

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7575
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #963 on: May 12, 2012, 04:47:57 AM »
I'm still here; just changed my name.  Being in the Witness Protection Program has its disadvantages. ;D
Yeah, but...all the pizza you can eat?!
"Maybe the problem most of you have ... is that you're not listening to Barbirolli." ~Sarge

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money." ~Margaret Thatcher

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3930
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #964 on: May 12, 2012, 09:36:29 AM »
A couple of random WTC things.

1. I've been dipping into Walcha's second record on DG over the past few days. In fact it doesn't seem that different to the first one -- or have I missed something? I know he uses a restored harpsichord for DG, but the Ammer doesn't sound too bad. On the contrary. And I know he takes more repeats for DG, but he often just uses a stop to mark the repeat. The basic conception of the music seems the same to me, though I do slightly prefer the DG, but I couldn't say why.

Anyway the DG one seems out of print. I'll put it on symphonyshare if anyone signals an interest.


2. The WTC that has given me the most pleasure recently -- maybe the most pleasure ever -- is Rubsam's selection on Naxos. What a shame he doesn't play more! It's made me hungry for a clavichord version, with a nice instrument, but played more flexibly than Kirkpatrick's (which I like in fact.) I.e. I want a clavichord version played with rubato Rubsam style. Suggestions appreciated.

Maybe Bach preferred clavichord to harpsichord for for the expression of his most refined thoughts.  It seems strange that there aren't more clavichord recordings from HIP musicians. Or maybe I've missed them.


« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 10:16:30 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9052
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #965 on: May 12, 2012, 09:59:38 AM »
It seems strange that there aren't more clavichord recordings from HIP musicians.

It could be due to the notorious issue of the volume of the instrument as heard through an audio system (as opposed to playing it or sitting next to someone who is in a household room).
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3930
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #966 on: May 12, 2012, 10:14:05 AM »
It could be due to the notorious issue of the volume of the instrument as heard through an audio system (as opposed to playing it or sitting next to someone who is in a household room).

That's interesting -- you mean most people play it too loud through their hi-fis?

If I remember right Kirkpatrick issued a warning on his CD to keep the volume down -- and that certainly seems to improve the listening experience for me.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 10:15:55 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9052
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #967 on: May 12, 2012, 10:22:08 AM »
That's interesting -- you mean most people play it too loud through their hi-fis?

If I remember right Kirkpatrick issued a warning on his CD to keep the volume down -- and that certainly seems to improve the listening experience for me.

Hi- or low-fi, speaking from personal experience, the instrument as heard through speakers at a "normal" volume is hard to hear and appreciate. And I've read others complain of the same problem. But given how much CPE (don't know about JS) loved his instrument, I imagine that it sounds better in person.
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline Coopmv

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 11739
  • Mein Freund ist mein
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #968 on: May 12, 2012, 10:28:16 AM »
That's interesting -- you mean most people play it too loud through their hi-fis?

If I remember right Kirkpatrick issued a warning on his CD to keep the volume down -- and that certainly seems to improve the listening experience for me.

Is this supposed to be the difference between hi-fi vs, mid-fi and lo-fi and that is real hi-fi should have excellent resolution that you can hear the details of your music at low volume?

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3930
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #969 on: May 12, 2012, 10:34:44 AM »
Hi- or low-fi, speaking from personal experience, the instrument as heard through speakers at a "normal" volume is hard to hear and appreciate. And I've read others complain of the same problem. But given how much CPE (don't know about JS) loved his instrument, I imagine that it sounds better in person.

The idea that JSB liked the clavichord  comes from Forkel who says he learnt it from interviews with JSB's sons. I think there's a suggestion that JSB actively disliked the harpsichord (too soulless) and the piano (crude)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 10:38:48 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9052
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #970 on: May 12, 2012, 10:37:09 AM »
The idea that JSB liked the clavichord  comes from Forkel.

Thanks. He could well have; I do not intend to argue against the notion. :)
Regards,
Navneeth

Offline Sammy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 918
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach and Miaskovsky
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #971 on: May 12, 2012, 11:41:02 AM »
Is this supposed to be the difference between hi-fi vs, mid-fi and lo-fi and that is real hi-fi should have excellent resolution that you can hear the details of your music at low volume?

I doubt it.  It's simply that the clavichord is a very intimate instrument and playing a recording at a high volume level will distort the pleasures of listening to the instrument and blow its intimate nature out of the water.

Offline Sammy

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 918
  • Location: Albuquerque
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bach and Miaskovsky
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #972 on: May 12, 2012, 11:48:54 AM »
The idea that JSB liked the clavichord  comes from Forkel who says he learnt it from interviews with JSB's sons. I think there's a suggestion that JSB actively disliked the harpsichord (too soulless) and the piano (crude)

Do you subscribe to the premise that the harpsichord lacks soul?  From the dozens of years I've listened to harpsichord recordings, the only deficiency of soul comes from the performer.

Offline milk

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1064
  • Location: usa
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #973 on: May 12, 2012, 06:58:34 PM »
I think it generally works well on organ, but some of the P&F´s work better than others (e.g. a-minor form Book I, E-major and  B flat-minor from Book II). All in all though I prefer the work played on harpsichord. Being fed up with the work on harpsichord I may however be biased. In Bach´s time it was natural to play keyboard works like this on the keyboard instrument one had at hand. Levin and Chorzempa play only some of the P&F´s on organ - obviously the ones they think are suited for organ. If you want, I can make a small survey of their recordings as to which instrument they use in which pieces.
Thanks for the response. I have the Levin but not the Chorzempa. I'm a little confused because it's hard to find information about the Chorzempa recording. So, he plays harpsichord on some of the P&F's? I'm not sure I fully understand your post. Why are you fed up with the work on harpsichord? I'm trying to temper my need to collect everything (except piano recordings - which I haven't listened to in years). Maybe I should be satisfied with what I have, unless people feel like other organ recordings of the WTC are revelatory. I feel like I have all the essential recordings of the WTC but somehow still want more. I was disappointed by Christine Schornsheim. I liked some of the samples of the Frédéric Desenclos. I guess I'm trying to decide if I really need it in my life.   

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3930
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #974 on: May 14, 2012, 11:39:55 AM »
The Charles Sanford Terry translation of Forkel's monograph says that JSB thought that the harpsichord is "susceptible of great variety of tone" and that he also thought that it is "lacking in soul."

It would be interesting (to me) to know what concept the word "soul" translates, and indeed the word "tone." I can't read German well enough to find out myself.

Forkel goes on to say that he thought the Clavichord "the best instrument." There's a footnote to say that this may not be accurate,  since he had no clavichords when he died.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2012, 11:42:21 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Sadko

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1751
  • Location: Germany
  • Currently Listening to:
    Piano music, Russian music, Mahler, Bruckner
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #975 on: May 14, 2012, 03:12:30 PM »
The Charles Sanford Terry translation of Forkel's monograph says that JSB thought that the harpsichord is "susceptible of great variety of tone" and that he also thought that it is "lacking in soul."

It would be interesting (to me) to know what concept the word "soul" translates, and indeed the word "tone." I can't read German well enough to find out myself.

Forkel goes on to say that he thought the Clavichord "the best instrument." There's a footnote to say that this may not be accurate,  since he had no clavichords when he died.

If you have the German text I can have a look at it.

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3930
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #976 on: May 14, 2012, 09:35:03 PM »
Am liebsten spielte er auf dem Clavichord. Die sogenannten Flügel, obgleich auch auf ihnen ein gar verschiedener Vortrag statt findet, waren ihm doch zu seelenlos, und die Pianoforte waren bey seinem Leben noch zu sehr in ihrer ersten Entstehung, und noch viel zu plump, als daß sie ihm hätten Genüge thun können. Er hielt daher das Clavichord für das beste Instrument zum Studiren, so wie überhaupt zur musikalischen Privatunterhaltung. Er fand es zum Vortrag seiner feinsten Gedanken am bequemsten, und glaubte nicht, daß auf irgend einem Flügel oder Pianoforte eine solche Mannigfaltigkeit in den Schattirungen des Tons hervor gebracht werden könne, als auf diesem zwar Ton-armen, aber im Kleinen außerordentlich biegsamen Instrument.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Sadko

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1751
  • Location: Germany
  • Currently Listening to:
    Piano music, Russian music, Mahler, Bruckner
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #977 on: May 15, 2012, 05:07:15 AM »
Am liebsten spielte er auf dem Clavichord. Die sogenannten Flügel, obgleich auch auf ihnen ein gar verschiedener Vortrag statt findet, waren ihm doch zu seelenlos, und die Pianoforte waren bey seinem Leben noch zu sehr in ihrer ersten Entstehung, und noch viel zu plump, als daß sie ihm hätten Genüge thun können. Er hielt daher das Clavichord für das beste Instrument zum Studiren, so wie überhaupt zur musikalischen Privatunterhaltung. Er fand es zum Vortrag seiner feinsten Gedanken am bequemsten, und glaubte nicht, daß auf irgend einem Flügel oder Pianoforte eine solche Mannigfaltigkeit in den Schattirungen des Tons hervor gebracht werden könne, als auf diesem zwar Ton-armen, aber im Kleinen außerordentlich biegsamen Instrument.

My translation:

He liked best to play the clavichord. The so-called "Flügel" [meaning "grand piano" in modern German, must be harpsichord here]  [...] was too soul-less for him, and the pianoforte at his lifetime was not yet developed enough [plump: ~ clumsy] to be sufficient for him. Therefore he considered the clavichord the best instrument for studying (exercising?), as well as for private musical entertainment. He found it most convenient for the presentation of his finest thoughts, and he did not think that on any grand piano or pianoforte such a wide range of shadings of tone (sound) could be produced, as on this instrument, with its small range of volume, but extraordinarily flexible within that range.

EDIT: In a way this is a surprising support for playing Bach on the modern piano: Although much louder it is capable of such flexibility and subtlety. And I also see a support for people who think it is adequate to play historical compositions on modern instruments: The available instruments were not necessarily the ideal ones for the composers.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 05:42:15 AM by Sadko »

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3930
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #978 on: May 15, 2012, 07:10:12 AM »
Thanks.

The word for soulless is seelenlos, right? And that's a compound of seele, which works just like the religious sense of the English word soul, I think. You're seele flies up to heaven when you're in a state of rapture  etc.

Basically Forkel is saying that according to JSB's sons, JSB didn't think that the harpsichord was a very good instrument for playing music which is spiritual. Or maybe I've misunderstood.

Does seele have a more general sense? In English you can say that something is spouless and mean that it's emotionally cold. I wonder if seelenlos worked like that for Forkel, or whether it's meaning was tied to the spiritual.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 07:22:08 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Opus106

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9052
  • Bachafugaholic
  • Location: Chennai, India
Re: Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier
« Reply #979 on: May 15, 2012, 07:21:12 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/jOzWN-PYh9s" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/jOzWN-PYh9s</a>

This is what a harpsichord with a cold sounds like!

(I know, I know -- it's not an ideal recording! ;D)
Regards,
Navneeth

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