Bach, J S: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 & 2

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Bach, J S: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 & 2



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Release date:

28th Feb 2005




DVD Video




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Bach, J S: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 & 2

Andrei Gavrilov (piano), Joanna McGregor (piano), Nikolai Demidenko (piano), Angela Hewitt (piano)

DVD Video - 2 discs


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Gramophone Classical Music Guide


“In February 2000 BBC Wales and Euroarts Music co-produced Bach's complete Well-TemperedClavier for television, dividing the work between four very different pianists filmed in four visually distinct venues. Rather than impart a concert performance continuity between the pieces, the directors treat each Prelude and Fugue as a separate entity in terms of lighting, camera angles, placement of the piano, extramusical imagery (kept to a minimum), as well as the pianists' wardrobe and hairstyles.
Collectors familiar with Andrei Gavrilov's romantically tinged, pianistic Bach French Suites won't register much surprise as to how he treats Book 1's first 12 Preludes and Fugues. Contrapuntal rigour takes a back seat to melodic nuance and tone colour in his languid, slightly sedate way. It's interesting how his pianism contrasts with the stark visual impact of Walsall's Art Gallery. Conversely, the gothic, shadowy detail Whiteside conveys in Barcelona's Güell Palace differs from Joanna McGregor's leaner propulsion throughout the rest of Book 1.
While she and Gavrilov use the printed score, Nikolai Demidenko and Angela Hewitt play Book 2 from memory. The plangent clarity of Demidenko's Fazioli concert grand stands out in Nos 1-12 (the other pianists perform on Steinways).
Several tempo choices are wayward, such as an over-fast and flippant F minor Prelude.
However, his linear clarity in the difficult-to-balance C sharp major Prelude and rhythmic swagger in the D major Prelude greatly impress.
Of the four pianists, Angela Hewitt commands the widest variety of articulations and inner dynamics, together with her finely honed ability to follow Bach's lines through to their final destination without sounding the least bit studied.
Cogent examples include the long-lined refinement of the G sharp minor Prelude and Fugue, the G major Prelude's lilting, conversational trajectory, and the B major Prelude's delicate yet firmly centred fingerwork. In the B flat minor Prelude the camera zooms in on Hewitt from above, allowing one to observe how she achieves her superior legato through fingers and hand balance alone. Aside from optional titles, the menu offers no bells and whistles to supplement the programme, but the audio engineering boasts ample warmth and presence.”

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