Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Astrée Auvidis
WORKS: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2
PERFORMER: Blandine Verlet (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: E 8539 DDD
Blandine Verlet plays a beautiful harpsichord built in 1624 by Hans Ruckers II, one of a Flemish family whose instruments were the most highly regarded throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since it hasn’t been tarted up, it offers no chances for fancy changes of registration, and all Blandine Verlet’s interpretation is a matter of rhythm and tempo. Like most harpsichord players, she does pull rhythm about to some extent, principally by dwelling fractionally on the most important changes of harmony. This is uncontroversial. She also spreads, or arpeggiates, many chords, not only to avoid the effect of plonking, but to clarify harmony and counterpoint. This, too, is normal, if not universal, in harpsichord playing, and Verlet exercises discretion in a way which seems natural. Sometimes, though, as in the brilliant D minor Prelude or the splendid concerto-like one in G sharp minor, her fingers lose some of their spring and seem merely to bang the music out. But she has a good sense of line and shape, and she unfolds the A flat Prelude, which is difficult to make flow, very successfully.

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In several of the longer preludes, Verlet skips repeats, but since otherwise she follows the text faithfully – you might say modestly – the disc can be recommended as a respectable library version which will also give much pleasure. Adrian Jack