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J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Klavier / John Butt, harpsichord [4 CDs]

Album Summary

>Bach, Johann Sebastian : The Well-Tempered Clavier (48), collection of preludes & fugues in 2 Books, BWV 846-893 (BC L80-127)
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Prize-winning Bach specialist John Butt performs J.S. Bach’s famous ‘Das wohltemperierte Klavier’ for his debut solo recording on Linn. Perhaps best known as director of Dunedin Consort, John Butt has won two Gramophone Awards: the 2007 ‘Baroque Vocal’ Award for ‘Handel: Messiah’ and the 2014 ‘Choral’ Award for ‘Mozart: Requiem’. Dunedin’s first instrumental release, ‘Six Brandenburg Concertos’, saw Butt’s harpsichord solos singled out for their virtuosity and technical skill. John Butt’s performance of ‘Das wohltemperierte Klavier’ benefits from the highly insightful historical knowledge that has shaped his hugely successful work with Dunedin Consort. The recording explores two aspects of Bach’s collection: firstly Butt bases his performance on recent editions so he can present the latest possible stage of Bach’s thoughts for each book; secondly Butt takes a unique approach to tempo and tempo relationships, which he explains fully in his comprehensive booklet note. The Well-Tempered Clavier is a seminal work whose influence on composition and performance, as well as keyboard technique, is far-reaching. John Butt has previously recorded eleven solo recordings, released on Harmonia Mundi, and performed in Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Holland. In January 2011 he became the fifth recipient of the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation’s Bach Prize, for his work in the performance and scholarship of Bach. In 2013 John Butt was awarded the medal of the Royal College of Organists and the OBE for his services to music in Scotland. 2013 also saw John Butt enjoy great success with two critically acclaimed Bach releases: ‘John Passion’ was named a ‘Critics’ Choice’ by BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’ and twice by Gramophone as well as being named ‘Recording of the Month’ by three separate publications, whilst ‘Six Brandenburg Concertos’ was named Gramophone ‘Choice’ and awarded five stars by both BBC Music Magazine and The Guardian.

The Guardian, 27th November 2014
It's an instrument with a big, muscular sound...Certainly there are plenty of surprises along the way, especially in Butt's treatment of the preludes, some of which seem gruff, almost peremptory, and in the rhythmic liberties he takes. The contrapuntal writing isn't always as clear as it might be either, and the assertiveness always outweighs the charm.

The Times, 13th December 2014
Butt has the scholarly credentials to rethink how the 48 preludes and fugues of Bach's "Well-tempered Clavier" collection should be performed, and the nimble fingers to translate his theories into impeccable clear readings on the harpsichord. In particular, he argues convincingly for tempo relationships between succeeding movements and, overall, to the human pulse.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: St Martin's, East Woodhay, Hampshire, UK (07/15/2013-07/18/2013).


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Works Details

>Bach, Johann Sebastian : The Well-Tempered Clavier (48), collection of preludes & fugues in 2 Books, BWV 846-893 (BC L80-127)
  • Performer: John Butt (Harpsichord)
  • Notes: St Martin's, East Woodhay, Hampshire, UK (07/15/2013-07/18/2013)
  • Running Time: 193 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: 1722-1740