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Christopher Brodersen
Fanfare, July 2012

Like any instrument, the harpsichord has its pluses and minuses, and in the hands of a lesser artist, the harpsichord is ruthless in revealing weaknesses in phrasing and technique. The best artists, of course, can turn a handicap into advantage. Schornsheim capitalizes on the strengths of the harpsichord in ways that are often hard to verbalize, such as the almost imperceptible changes in articulation—which would be lost on the more resonant modern piano—that set one voice against another in a fugue, or the minute applications of rubato that make sense of the rhetoric of a prelude. It is a style of playing grounded in intense study of and appreciation for Bach’s music, but one that never sounds labored, forced, or unnatural. There is nary a misjudged tempo or instance of flagging inspiration here; throughout Books 1 and 2 the level of accomplishment is remarkably high. In the international arena of Bach performance, I predict that this release will enjoy immediate and widespread favor.

Another reason for the serious record collector to consider the acquisition of this set is the choice of instrument. It is the 1624 two-manual Ruckers (enlarged in France in the 18th century) housed in the Musée Unterlinden, Colmar…it has never been recorded more intelligently and realistically than it is here. Highest recommendation. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare



Harriet Smith
Gramophone, June 2012

Here we have two quite different approaches to the ‘48’: Peter Hill plays Book 2 on a modern Steinway, while Christine Schornsheim performs both books [of The Well-Tempered Clavier] on a very fine Ruckers harpsichord originally dating from 1624 and subsequently updated several times before being beautifully restored 30 years ago by Christopher Clarke. It has a strikingly warm and highly coloured range of sound, something Schornsheim exploits to the full.

She manages to personalise such well-known numbers as the opening Prelude of Book 1 in a way that is entirely natural-sounding, while the closing bars of the Book 2 B minor Prelude are wonderfully dramatic…overall this is an appealing addition to the catalogue… © 2012 Gramophone



Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, May 2012

Technically, the performances are as good as faultless, though there is a split note early on, 0:47 seconds into the very first Fugue in C major. Spectacular runs are spectacular, chords which need spreading are spread, fugue voices are clear and consistent, changes in registration help keep up a variety of texture. For instance, the prelude No. 9 in E major in book one is given the light sparkle of an upper register, the following fugue has the added lower octave, which makes for a nice organic development.

Picking out highlights in such a superb set of performances is somewhat redundant. Each time you click onto a new track the response is ‘ooh, that’s good’, and the ear and mind take you in from there into world of delicious Bachness, or should that be Bachiosity, or Bachtastic Bachtabulousness … Book 2 of the two sets is the less frequently recorded of the two, and so it’s good to have such a strong pairing of both in one place. The rich resonance of the Ruckers instrument make the repeated notes which open the prelude No. 3 in C sharp major ripple elegantly; it’s a shame she doesn’t make the triplet long-short rhythm I feel is more correct for the main theme of the Prelude No. 5 in D major, but this is an exciting take on the piece and filled with irrepressible vitality. I love the damped strings of the Prelude No. 7 in flat major and the grandeur of the following fugue, and one of my favourites, the F major Prelude No. 11 unfurls splendidly: Bach’s ornately scaled-up frame for one of the briefest and most playful of the fugues.

A wondrously fresh sounding and superbly performed recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier, this is very easy to recommend to those who favour harpsichord versions of the work, as well, I hope, as being a persuasive introduction to those more enamoured of the work recorded on piano. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Blair Sanderson
Allmusic.com, May 2012

Schornsheim is a solid performer with a robust sound, and her handling of the harpsichord’s sonorities is assured and varied, according to the changing textures and characters of the preludes and fugues. There is also a muscular quality to her playing that comes through in her regular motor rhythms…The recordings were made in 2010 and 2011 in a museum setting, so carefully placed microphones capture the harpsichord with crisp details and clean sound with little background resonance, so the overall effect is close-up and intensely focused. © 2012 Allmusic.com Read complete review



Benjamin Katz
American Record Guide, May 2012

The music transcends instrumentation. In the Well-Tempered Clavier the fugues, modelled on contrapuntal vocal music, are a special challenge to bring to life on the harpsichord…Thanks to [Christine Schornshein's] sensitivity, the listener is able to follow the intertwining threads of Bach’s music without losing a sense of continuity and unity.

Schornstein has a close rapport with the harpsichord. Her relationship to the instrument is enriched by the way she treats the music—registration choices, improvised ornamentation…and playing with resonance to make the structure of composition evident. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online




Jed Distler
ClassicsToday.com, January 2012

the present release is splendidly engineered…Schornsheim’s performances address issues of style and ornamentation without yielding to the agogic arrhythmia that certain historically informed interpreters—or their overly literal, sewing machine-like antipodes—dote upon…Well-Tempered Clavier cycles will find much to admire here. © 2012 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review






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4:12:51 AM, 22 August 2014
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