Bach: Das wohltemperirte Klavier, Book 1; Das wohltemperirte Klavier, Book 2

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Das wohltemperirte Klavier, Book 1; Das wohltemperirte Klavier, Book 2
PERFORMER: Bob van Asperen (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: VBD 5 61711 2 Reissue (1987-9)
Bob van Asperen, a protégé of Gustav Leonhardt, completed his recording of Bach’s ‘48’ Preludes and Fugues ten years ago. There are some brilliant features in this playing as you will quickly find out by listening to the C sharp major Prelude from Book 1. But I find him unyielding in too many places where the music should be allowed to speak with more leisurely grace and with more alluring inflections. He does not make enough contrasts and is inclined to overlook elements of punctuation and rhythm which are crucial to poetic declamation. Ultimately, all this seemingly misplaced urgency makes the playing tiring to listen to. Kenneth Gilbert (DG) and Davitt Moroney (Harmonia Mundi) engage my attention and affect my senses much more readily. Their success in placing virtuosity at the service of the music’s poetic content is more in evidence than in van Asperen’s fluent, idiomatic but too often hard-driven performances. Nicholas Anderson

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