J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Jeno Jando
Individual Works:48 Preludes and Fugues
BWV 846-893
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Naxos
Catalog Number:Book I: 8.550970-1, Book II: 8.553796-7
Year Released/Recorded:Book I: 1995
Book II: 1993
Total Playing Time:Two sets of two CDs:
Book I: 110'83"
Book II: 141'57"
Comments:Hieu Tran said:

These are neat! Jeno Jando plays piano works from Mozart to Beethoven to Rachmaninov to Liszt's "Transcendental Etude," so the question isn't if he can play a work but how he plays it. In the case of Bach's *Forty-Eights*, Jando's performances are inexplicably delightful, and they undoubtedly stand above mid-price recordings while standing their own ground against full-price recordings. A nice comparison would be to Gulda's. While Gulda's recording on Philips (a mid-price set) is one of the better ones out there, Jando's on Naxos is one of the excellent ones out there--and Naxos may be cheating themselves for marketing these sets at their normal budget price. The quality of the recording is flawless, without doubt superior to some of the few small but noticeable distortions on Gulda's. The piano here is sonorous, but not hollow--although some may find the sound a little stuffy. Jando takes advantage of the piano by playing with the dynamics. Unlike Gulda who changes dynamics between pieces but not very much within them, Jando sometimes plays with dynamics more noticeably among the voices within each piece, but nothing exaggerated. As for the playing itself, Jando uses no gimmicks; he simply heads through crisply. There isn't anything that should keep one from just trying this set. Taste on tempi and such things will, of course, determine how one will like it. Even with tempi, however, Jando doesn't do anything grotesque--safe if not fine interpretations. And for those who like to shuffle their tracks but do not want to lose the prelude from the fugue (an anal retention I believe only I possess), these CDs each contain twelve tracks, and each track is a complete pairing of a prelude and fugue.

GJN said:

I have these CDs, and I'm afraid I'm rather disappointed with them. Not that I have anything against either Jando or Naxos (I own and like Vol. I of the Haydn piano sonatas by this performer on this label). But I don't like these performances of the WTC at all: I find the accoustics muddy, with Jando far too heavy on the pedals. I'd much prefer a more "Gouldian" sound. And although I'm not a musician myself, in at least one piece I suspect that Jando simply can't move his fingers fast enough, and cocks up entirely (track 2 of CD 3: BWV 859, I think). [Though if the music is MEANT to be like this, please set the record straight!] Perhaps I should try Gould, or Moroney on harpsichord?

Jan Hanford said:

Heavy and messy. I can't expect a pianist who records Beethoven and Liszt to be able to play Bach nicely. The worlds are just too far apart and few, if any, pianists can cross over that far. Yes it's inexpensive but, in this case, it's not worth it.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Hieu Tran
  • GJN
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:04/13/1999