Author Topic: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why  (Read 8715 times)

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Offline milk

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5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« on: October 13, 2019, 04:21:23 PM »
Your very favorites please and why. Talk about either or both books.
At the moment, I like Suzuki, Parmentier, Feinberg, Demus and Levin.
Suzuki - grand and elevating
Parmentier - I’m not sure but I like it
Feinberg - magical wild man
Demus - I’m not sure but he digs deep into the music
Levin - in a way straightforward but very alive with joy and mastery of various instruments and sound

Offline hvbias

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2019, 04:47:25 PM »
There are to my knowledge three (or is it four?) Jorg Demus recordings, which ones are you referring to? I have only heard the ones from the CD release on MCA and greatly enjoyed Book 1. I am having a hard time keeping all his recordings straight in my mind, I think these MCA CD releases are the Westminster recordings from the 1950s? It might or might not make my top 5, I would have to think about this quite hard before I compile a full list.

For now I will only mention Andrei Vieru, this is one of my favorite discoveries in the last few years. His interpretations are so probing and deep and at least on piano second only to Tureck's DG recording.

Offline milk

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2019, 05:32:04 PM »
There are to my knowledge three (or is it four?) Jorg Demus recordings, which ones are you referring to? I have only heard the ones from the CD release on MCA and greatly enjoyed Book 1. I am having a hard time keeping all his recordings straight in my mind, I think these MCA CD releases are the Westminster recordings from the 1950s? It might or might not make my top 5, I would have to think about this quite hard before I compile a full list.

For now I will only mention Andrei Vieru, this is one of my favorite discoveries in the last few years. His interpretations are so probing and deep and at least on piano second only to Tureck's DG recording.
I’d never heard of Vieru and am excited to take a look. I have to check about Demus because I’ve been listening to some more recent live recordings that someone sent me via internet files. I’m not sure where they came from. I’ve listened to the 50s stuff and I’m not sure. Maybe I should bump Demus. There are many good ones like Pienaar and Fellner. Maybe I could replace Demus with Fellner although he’s only done B1.

Offline Moonfish

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2019, 07:57:21 PM »
Hmm, an interesting listing for the Demus' WTC on Amazon. It literally makes my heart race...   ::)

https://smile.amazon.com/Well-Tempered-Clavier-Books-One/dp/B00IMGXLB4/

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Offline milk

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2019, 03:41:41 AM »
Hmm, an interesting listing for the Demus' WTC on Amazon. It literally makes my heart race...   ::)

https://smile.amazon.com/Well-Tempered-Clavier-Books-One/dp/B00IMGXLB4/
:laugh: I'm too exhausted to add to the word play. I've been sitting here trying but I got nothing. Long day. Just to add: I have a performance by Demus that someone sent me and it's a bit of an odd bag. It even has clavichord and organ though it's mostly on a Steinway. I'd like to compare it to the 60s version I have access to via amazon. I saw Demus play the WTC and was really blow away. Local people were also offering a very expensive recording of this performance for sale. I declined but still think about it.

Offline Moonfish

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2019, 08:12:47 AM »
It appears that this recent compilation includes quite a few of Demus' recordings although not the WTC (the partitas and the Goldberg though). It seems to be a Membran type of release.  Still worth exploring to get a feel for Demus.


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Offline hvbias

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2019, 12:30:48 PM »
I’d never heard of Vieru and am excited to take a look. I have to check about Demus because I’ve been listening to some more recent live recordings that someone sent me via internet files. I’m not sure where they came from. I’ve listened to the 50s stuff and I’m not sure. Maybe I should bump Demus. There are many good ones like Pienaar and Fellner. Maybe I could replace Demus with Fellner although he’s only done B1.

I've been hesitant to get too attached to Fellner, an incomplete WTC makes me sad  :laugh: . Piennaar I found was a touch too idiosyncratic for me and his tempi seemed to just range from fast to damn fast.

Bob van Asperen's EMI recordings have also been in my WTC heavy rotation and I've enjoyed them quite a bit, but again hesitant to include them in a top 5 list. The groupings of recordings on both piano and harpsichord requires some thought.

I don't mean to derail your thread and just turn this into another WTC discussion thread, I figure I might as well mention this disc, Backhaus playing BWV893 and 884 from this live date is just stunning. If I had to name one pianist I would have liked to hear more WTC from it would be Backhaus.

« Last Edit: October 14, 2019, 12:35:34 PM by staxomega »

Offline milk

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2019, 02:16:48 PM »
I've been hesitant to get too attached to Fellner, an incomplete WTC makes me sad  :laugh: . Piennaar I found was a touch too idiosyncratic for me and his tempi seemed to just range from fast to damn fast.

Bob van Asperen's EMI recordings have also been in my WTC heavy rotation and I've enjoyed them quite a bit, but again hesitant to include them in a top 5 list. The groupings of recordings on both piano and harpsichord requires some thought.

I don't mean to derail your thread and just turn this into another WTC discussion thread, I figure I might as well mention this disc, Backhaus playing BWV893 and 884 from this live date is just stunning. If I had to name one pianist I would have liked to hear more WTC from it would be Backhaus.


I listened via YouTube and it’s excellent indeed! Too bad he didn’t do the whole shebang! I might add that for a fuzzy old recording, the instrument sounds great.

Offline Verena

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2019, 11:53:10 AM »
Your very favorites please and why. Talk about either or both books.
At the moment, I like Suzuki, Parmentier, Feinberg, Demus and Levin.
Suzuki - grand and elevating
Parmentier - I’m not sure but I like it
Feinberg - magical wild man
Demus - I’m not sure but he digs deep into the music
Levin - in a way straightforward but very alive with joy and mastery of various instruments and sound

I also love Feinberg. Edwin Fischer is similarly magical in my view.
Others: Lifschitz - poetic
Gould exhilarating and infuriating in equal measure - also applies to Gulda to some extent
Richter (like his rhythm (If that’s the right word, probably not), the way he emphasises the musical line (again, very difficult to describe)

I like most harpsichord recordings in terms of interpretation, none more so than the one by Celine Frisch (I thought her second book is just about the most perfect interpretation I’ve ever heard, if only it weren’t played on a harpsichord   :( Just can’t listen to the sound of harpsichords for a long time, however great the playing.
And then there is a great number of mostly recently released versions which in my view might also become contenders for the top five: Ugorskaja, Papastefanou, Poblocka (only the first book has been recorded), Schepkin (especially book 2)..

Offline San Antone

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2019, 12:01:47 PM »
Mauricio Pollini - like everything he does, clean, strong lines while still finding the poetry
Jill Crossland - Apollonian
Wolfgang Rubsam - his recent recordings on the lute-harpsichord offer a new way (at least to me) of playing the counterpoint; very interesting and enjoyable
Bob van Asperen - refined, traditional interpretation on a good sounding instrument
Andras Schiff - his ECM recording, great sounding recording; restrained but expressive performance on piano

But there are many more that could have been listed.  Along with the Goldberg Variations, and the WTC those two are the Bach works I listen to the most;  and like to hear different performers as much as possible.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 12:04:53 PM by San Antone »

Offline milk

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2019, 03:32:38 PM »
Mauricio Pollini - like everything he does, clean, strong lines while still finding the poetry
Jill Crossland - Apollonian
Wolfgang Rubsam - his recent recordings on the lute-harpsichord offer a new way (at least to me) of playing the counterpoint; very interesting and enjoyable
Bob van Asperen - refined, traditional interpretation on a good sounding instrument
Andras Schiff - his ECM recording, great sounding recording; restrained but expressive performance on piano

But there are many more that could have been listed.  Along with the Goldberg Variations, and the WTC those two are the Bach works I listen to the most;  and like to hear different performers as much as possible.
I want to try the Pollini. That one I don’t know. Yesterday I was listening to the B-flat from Bk2 and I listened to a dozen different recordings; they were all worthwhile. Maybe I should have said “your 20 favorite.” Do you think it’s tacky do another poll? 5 is ridiculous really. Crossland, Fischer, Feinberg, Schiff, Tureck, Leonhardt, Gilbert, Suzuki, Parmentier, Van Asperen, Pienaar...
I don’t know Koopman well, nor Egarr, nor Belder...and there are so many more to try. I never tire of WTC.

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2019, 05:34:21 PM »
Walcha Harpsichord 1972. Not the earlier recording!
Hewitt Piano
Gould Piano. Also on my list of most irritating WTC recordings
Schornsheim. Harpsichord, and not just any harpsichord, but the famous Ruckers. Verlet might have recorded with this too, but I have not heard her set complete


Offline milk

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2019, 08:44:28 PM »
Walcha Harpsichord 1972. Not the earlier recording!
Hewitt Piano
Gould Piano. Also on my list of most irritating WTC recordings
Schornsheim. Harpsichord, and not just any harpsichord, but the famous Ruckers. Verlet might have recorded with this too, but I have not heard her set complete
I totally forgot about Christine Schornsheim. Thanks. I remember liking it and I have it in my collection. Let me see if I can lay my (metaphorical) hands on that Walcha.
ETA: I see Amazon streams the '61 recording.  >:(
« Last Edit: October 15, 2019, 08:47:37 PM by milk »

Offline San Antone

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2019, 12:58:20 AM »
I listened to some of Pieter Jan Belder's recording last night.  I loved the sound of the instrument, warm and multi-faceted, which goes a long way to my loving the performance.  Will try to listen to the entire thing this week, but it will probably join my other favorites since the sound of the harpsichord is a determining factor of my response to early keyboard recordings.


Christine Schornsheim's keyboard is also very good sounding, and her playing is always very good; I almost included hers in my list.  If it were to replace one, it might be the Rubsam, since his lute-harpsichord recordings are so quirky, for me, they have a tendency to grow tiresome over time.

Other harpsichord recordings I plan on refreshing my memory in the coming days: Octavio Dantone, Christophe Rousett, and Peter Watchorn.

Did Blandine Rannou or Christine Verlet record the WTC?  I can't find either on Spotify. Rannou's Inventions & Sinfonias is very good. 

Offline milk

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2019, 01:19:07 AM »
I listened to some of Pieter Jan Belder's recording last night.  I loved the sound of the instrument, warm and multi-faceted, which goes a long way to my loving the performance.  Will try to listen to the entire thing this week, but it will probably join my other favorites since the sound of the harpsichord is a determining factor of my response to early keyboard recordings.


Christine Schornsheim's keyboard is also very good sounding, and her playing is always very good; I almost included hers in my list.  If it were to replace one, it might be the Rubsam, since his lute-harpsichord recordings are so quirky, for me, they have a tendency to grow tiresome over time.

Other harpsichord recordings I plan on refreshing my memory in the coming days: Octavio Dantone, Christophe Rousett, and Peter Watchorn.

Did Blandine Rannou or Christine Verlet record the WTC?  I can't find either on Spotify. Rannou's Inventions & Sinfonias is very good.
I don't believe Rannou has. She's done everything else in the Harpsichord repertoire, I think.

Ken B

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2019, 05:10:32 AM »
I totally forgot about Christine Schornsheim. Thanks. I remember liking it and I have it in my collection. Let me see if I can lay my (metaphorical) hands on that Walcha.
ETA: I see Amazon streams the '61 recording.  >:(

Yes, the 61 is available but the instrument is torture to listen to. I have never seen the 72 on CD, but heard rumors of a Korean issue.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2019, 11:52:32 AM »
Yes, the 61 is available but the instrument is torture to listen to. I have never seen the 72 on CD, but heard rumors of a Korean issue.

It was released on CD by French DG some 20 years ago. Can still be found at Amazon.fr. (AMP sellers). Search Walcha, and you will find it. I have tried to post links, but they don't work.


« Last Edit: October 16, 2019, 11:59:13 AM by (: premont :) »
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Offline Moonfish

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2019, 12:31:02 PM »
Walcha Harpsichord 1972. Not the earlier recording!
Hewitt Piano
Gould Piano. Also on my list of most irritating WTC recordings
Schornsheim. Harpsichord, and not just any harpsichord, but the famous Ruckers. Verlet might have recorded with this too, but I have not heard her set complete

Which Walcha version lives in this compilation?

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2019, 12:39:17 PM »
Which Walcha version lives in this compilation?



The first one of course. This is the second one, it's on spotify

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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: 5 favorite Well Tempered Clavier recordings and why
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2019, 12:41:56 PM »
Which Walcha version lives in this compilation?



The 1961 EMI recording. Even if the harpsichord is of revival type, the interpretations are certainly special and listenable. E.g. you get in this box a high voltage interpretation of the partitas, the English suites and much else.
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