J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Kenneth Gilbert
Instrumentation:Harpsichord
Individual Works:Book 1: 24 Preludes and Fugues, BWV 846-869
Book 2: 24 Preludes and Fugues, BWV 870-893
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Archiv Produktion
Catalog Number:413 439-1
Year Released/Recorded:1984
Total Playing Time:4 cd's
disc totals not provided
Comments:Jan Hanford:

Kenneth Gilbert is one of those enduring harpsichordists, with whom many have studied and to whom many are compared. Recording both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier is a major undertaking for both harpsichordist and record company. I can imagine that when it was orginally released in 1984 it was considered the quintessential performance of these works. It is excellent with elegant tempos and understated ornamentation (a refreshing detail). I would have preferred less reverb; some of the details are lost in all the clanging. The newer closely miked recordings sound much more intimate and details are more accessible.

My only real complaint about the recording is the tuning. A=392 just doesn't work for me, I find it confusing. It conforms to historically-accurate performance so I suppose one must learn to deal with it. I want C major to sound like C major, not B-flat Major but apparently that's just me and the HIP dogmatists tell me I'm an idiot. Whatever.

Also, the tracks are indexed with each prelude and fugue on one track, instead of each having their own track which I prefer. I enjoyed this recording but cannot lament its being out of print since there are many others that are in-print that I can recommend, i.e. Davitt Moroney or Scott Ross.

Acknowledgements:From the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:02/19/2002