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David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2020

BACH, J.S.: Well-Tempered Clavier (The), Book 2, BWV 870-893 (A. Schiff) (NTSC) 2.110654
BACH, J.S.: Well-Tempered Clavier (The), Book 2, BWV 870-893 (A. Schiff) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0105V

Following on last month’s release of Bach’s First Book of The Well Tempered Clavier from Andras Schiff, we now have the Second Book filmed in August 2018.

Played without an interval in London’s Royal Albert Hall, my review of that first instalment commented that his playing was without blemish and imbued with a feeling of much happiness. I can repeat those words in response to this second captivating video. It is performed on a modern Steinway concert grand piano, Schiff’s total precision bringing a quality close to that of a harpsichord, but here without that up-dated view of the score that I find so tasteless in many other ‘piano’ versions, Schiff’s feet are firmly planted on the stage and never coming even close to a pedal. To memorise a work lasting a little over two hours and twenty minutes is an achievement in itself, but to be as fresh at the close as he was at the beginning of this marathon is amazing. You only have to go as far as the third track to sample his fresh and almost playful account of many of the Twenty-four Preludes and Fugues that form each of the two books. Then journey on another two tracks to see how easily he handles the work’s technical demands. Yet any performance has to be a servant in communicating the genius that first created them, and more than in any performance I have encountered, this is the requirement that Schiff makes his whole approach to the work. As for those responsible for the filming aspects, you will enjoy the simplicity of approach that captures your interest without in any way distracting from the performance. In summary I would commend these two releases that form a milestone in the work’s performance history, and it also comes on Blu-ray NBD 0105V © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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