Listeners familiar with any of Masaaki Suzuki's many Bach recordings for BIS are likely to know what to expect from his recording of the Well-Tempered Klavier Book II: immaculate playing, impeccable taste, and immediate sound. Perhaps best-known internationally for his series of recordings of Bach's cantatas and other sacred works, Suzuki started his career as a superlative keyboard player, and as his performance here on the harpsichord demonstrates, he has kept his skills well-honed.
He was born in 's-Graveland, North Holland and studied organ and harpsichord from 1947 to 1950 with Eduard Müller at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel. In 1950, he made his debut as a harpsichordist in Vienna, where he studied musicology. He was professor of harpsichord at the Academy of Music from 1952 to 1955 and at the Amsterdam Conservatory from 1954. He was also a church organist.wiki
Youthful Viennese pianist Till Fellner has performed J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier to critical acclaim across Europe, and has made it the backbone of his recital repertoire. For this recording of Book I, Fellner performs the 24 preludes and fugues with a rich and full sound, yet with the refinement and fastidious control required in these comprehensive studies of Baroque keyboard technique. Articulation and balanced phrasing are of paramount importance, and Fellner's energies are directed to the clean execution of lines and the careful shading of contrapuntal voicings. What emotion he communicates is subtle and somewhat constrained to the contrasting characters of each pairing – the preludes and fugues often play off each other – yet his interpretations are quite colorful and varied over the course of the set. Neither cerebral nor effusive, Fellner renders the music in an appealing middle area between schools of interpretation, and achieves imaginative results that should please both traditionalists and fans of period practice.
Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier is performed on the piano while Book Two is performed on the harpsichord. His tempos are very fast, and he has a certain sense of humor that comes through in all his performances, making what might seem academic, warm and accessible. Highly recommended - and check out Jarrett's other classical recordings for other delights just as great.
Keith Jarrett is such a fine musician that he, as a composer as well as a performer and a jazz interpreter as well as a classics interpreter, knows when to simply let the written notes be played the way they were written. His Bach is very straightforward: yes, he embellishes in keeping with the indications and musical period of Bach, but he never lets the embellishments sound as though they should call attention to the performer. Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier is performed on the piano while Book Two is performed on the harpsichord.
Jarrett seems to me to have successfully bridged the jazz world with the classical, proving himself in the process to be quite a formidable Bach player. There is nothing gimmicky or shallow in his playing; indeed, his fine rhythmic sense allied to a lively feeling for gesture, his grasp of ornament and his sheer spontaneity are aspects of the jazz musician's craft as much as the classical player's and they serve Bach's music extremely well….
Walter Wilhelm Gieseking (5 November 1895 – 26 October 1956) was a French-born German pianist and composer.
Jan Hanford (jsbach.org) says:
This performance (Book I - 1972/73) is one of the best I've heard. Leonhardt's tempos are excellent (slower than typically), and his use of a variety of the stops on the harpsichord is delightful. I can see why his is a performance by which others are measured. Very highly recommended.
This recording (Book II) was recorded before Book I (1967), so the sound is different and little clangy and resonant. But Leonhardt's playing is worth it.