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J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I and II

Audio Samples

  1. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846 $0.99 on iTunes
  2. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 1 in C major, BWV 846 $0.99 on iTunes
  3. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 2 in C minor, BWV 847 $0.99 on iTunes
  4. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 2 in C minor, BWV 847 $0.99 on iTunes
  5. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 3 in C sharp major, BWV 848 $0.99 on iTunes
  6. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 3 in C sharp major, BWV 848 $0.99 on iTunes
  7. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 4 in C sharp minor, BWV 849 $0.99 on iTunes
  8. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 4 in C sharp minor, BWV 849 $0.99 on iTunes
  9. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 5 in D major, BWV 850 $0.99 on iTunes
  10. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 5 in D major, BWV 850 $0.99 on iTunes
  11. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 6 in D minor, BWV 851 $0.99 on iTunes
  12. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 6 in D minor, BWV 851 $0.99 on iTunes
  13. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 7 in E flat major, BWV 852 $0.99 on iTunes
  14. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 7 in E flat major, BWV 852 $0.99 on iTunes
  15. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 8 in E flat minor, BWV 853 $0.99 on iTunes
  16. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 8 in D sharp minor, BWV 853 $0.99 on iTunes
  17. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 9 in E major, BWV 854 $0.99 on iTunes
  18. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 9 in E major, BWV 854 $0.99 on iTunes
  19. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 10 in E minor, BWV 855 $0.99 on iTunes
  20. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 10 in E minor, BWV 855 $0.99 on iTunes
  21. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 11 in F major, BWV 856 $0.99 on iTunes
  22. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 11 in F major, BWV 856 $0.99 on iTunes
  23. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 12 in F minor, BWV 857 $0.99 on iTunes
  24. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 12 in F minor, BWV 857 $0.99 on iTunes
  25. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 13 in F sharp major, BWV 858 $0.99 on iTunes
  26. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 13 in F sharp major, BWV 858 $0.99 on iTunes
  27. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 14 in F sharp minor, BWV 859 $0.99 on iTunes
  28. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 14 in F sharp minor, BWV 859 $0.99 on iTunes
  29. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 15 in G major, BWV 860 $0.99 on iTunes
  30. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 15 in G major, BWV 860 $0.99 on iTunes
  31. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 16 in G minor, BWV 861 $0.99 on iTunes
  32. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 16 in G minor, BWV 861 $0.99 on iTunes
  33. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 17 in A flat major, BWV 862 $0.99 on iTunes
  34. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 17 in A flat major, BWV 862 $0.99 on iTunes
  35. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 18 in G sharp minor, BWV 863 $0.99 on iTunes
  36. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 18 in G sharp minor, BWV 863 $0.99 on iTunes
  37. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 19 in A major, BWV 864 $0.99 on iTunes
  38. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 19 in A major, BWV 864 $0.99 on iTunes
  39. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 20 in A minor, BWV 865 $0.99 on iTunes
  40. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 20 in A minor, BWV 865 $0.99 on iTunes
  41. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 21 in B flat major, BWV 866 $0.99 on iTunes
  42. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 21 in B flat major, BWV 866 $0.99 on iTunes
  43. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 22 in B flat minor, BWV 867 $0.99 on iTunes
  44. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 22 in B flat minor, BWV 867 $0.99 on iTunes
  45. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 23 in B major, BWV 868 $0.99 on iTunes
  46. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 23 in B major, BWV 868 $0.99 on iTunes
  47. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Prelude No. 24 in B minor, BWV 869 $0.99 on iTunes
  48. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, BWV 846 - 869: Fugue No. 24 in B minor, BWV 869 $0.99 on iTunes
  49. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 870 - 893: Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 870 $0.99 on iTunes
  50. Bach — The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 870 - 893: Fugue No. 1 in C major, BWV 870 $0.99 on iTunes

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:

Gianluca Luisi was already fascinated from the piano when he was 3 years of age. He studied at the piano Academy in Imola, played at various master-classes, held by internationally known musicians such as Lazar Berman, Jorge Demus, Alexander Lonquich, Paul Badura Skoda, J.Achucarro, Antonio Ballista, A.Jasinski, Rosalyn Tureck, and others, and completed his studies with Sergio Perticaroli in Rome. He has won prizes in various National and International Piano Competitions, among them the Genzano Competition in Rome (1st Prize), 2nd prize in the Bellini International Competition in Caltanissetta, and 1st prize in the "J.S.Bach Piano International Competition" in Saarbrucken-Germany (54 pianists from 26 countries took part to this event).

"Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I at least, dates from his time in Anhalt-Köthen, the composer's "wild years". The work possibly reflects the greater freedom which the composer enjoyed there than when performing his somewhat restricted and restrictive duties at Weimar. It's one of the cornerstone works for the keyboard; and arguably amongst the greatest "extended" compositions of all time. Central to a good performance, let alone a great one, are the dual challenges of divergence and convergence. Divergence in that Bach infused a relatively simple idea (preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys) with huge variety. Any player has to embrace that variety, rather than "conquer" it. Convergence in that Bach's idea perhaps had to have a format which is systematic, if not actually downright repetitive, obliging the performer to privilege that very variety in a context where it could so easily be lost to routine.

Gianluca Luisi is an Italian pianist who was born in 1970; he studied, variously, at the Rossini Conservatory with Franco Scala, at the piano Academy in Imola, under Giovanni Valentini, Boris Petrushansky, Piero Rattalino and Riccardo Risaliti, completing his studies with Sergio Perticaroli in Rome. He went on to win an impressive number of prizes: the National Piano competition "Città dell'Aquila", the Mozart Prize (Italy); the Genzano Competition in Rome (first prize); the Cesenatico Competition (first prize); the Jeunesse Musicales Competition (first prize); the TIM Torneo Internazionale di Musica (first prize); in March 2001 he won the first prize in the "J.S. Bach Piano International Competition" in Saarbrucken (Germany).

So he is well-placed to make something really special of the Well-Tempered Clavier. And in a way he does. His is not a "classic" account, one that is designed or placed to become either a "reference" recording or a definitive one. Luisi's way of approaching the variety within the structure of the 48 starts with considerable freshness. He plays each prelude and fugue with a directness, a sense of the new that is invigorating. Not that he makes us think we're listening to the work for the first time. Nor that Luisi has insights that no one else has stumbled upon before. He has greater humility than to do that. Yet Luisi certainly shows us that he has an understanding of the work that makes us want to stop and take notice.

The pianist achieves this happy balance chiefly thanks to his tempi and phrasing. Although some of the preludes in particular (the E? Major [CD.1 tr.13] and A Major [CD.3 tr.13] ones, for example) are taken a little on the slow side, they never actually falter. On the other hand, there is a dignity and weight to this pacing (in the F minor fugue [CD.1 tr.24], for example) which is so well-conceived as to reassure us that, although Luisi's original conception may have been built on deliberation, his execution conveys great expressivity and attachment to the music. The melodic invention and sense of entering a world of great profundity is retained as well.

If you object to the use of the modern piano, there will be every reason to object to this set: it is very pianistic. The F? pair [CD.2 tr.s 1, 2], for example, emphasize the instrument's almost nasal qualities... the attack and decay of notes sandwiching a gently vibrating sound is loud and clear. Yet if you concentrate instead on the lines of melody, accompaniment, you can hardly fail to be struck by the sure but unobtrusive control that Luisi has over the works. He has not arrogated them to himself as pianists like Richter (RCA Victor Special Imports 260949) did. But he has that plainness and directness that Fischer (EMI Classics 91951) had; as though looking "through" the piano to the essence of the music itself. That in some way offsets any wish to stay with the palette of timbres and sounds for which Bach imagined the works - and abandon the piano for the harpsichord. Luisi concentrates on the mathematics, the systemic conception of contrapuntal writing; and seems aware of this in such a way that he refrains from overplaying the phrasing and sense of structuring which could also all too easily have resulted in a mechanical approach.

Luisi's is a concept that will neither rush nor get excited about the beauty or profundity of the music; but at the same time which avoids the pedestrian or mundane: the G Major pair [CD.2 tr.s 5, 6] are cases in point of this happy balance. Focused, unelaborate, forward-moving, demonstrative without being emphatic or strident. He seems to be taking pride in the near tranquility that he achieves by knowing the music and having such a clear idea of how he wants it to sound. This is comforting because Luisi's is likely to become a recording which one will want to return to. No one account will ever say it all. This one should stand the test of repeated listening well.

The recording is close and focused; it was made in 2005 at the Temple rue (not "due" as the booklet, which has a number of typographical and syntactical errors, has it - it's not up to Centaur's usual standards at all) Pierre Nicole in Paris. This is unlikely to be your first choice for a piano version of the Well-Tempered Clavier (that would be Rosalyn Tureck on Deutsche Grammophon (463305) for a historical, Glenn Gould on Sony (42266) for a less recent or András Schiff on Decca (414388) for a modern performance). But one to be considered closely nevertheless. Recommended.

"...the pianist is first rate and the sense of Bach's style abundantly present."-American Record Guide

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Temple due Pierre Nicole Paris 16 (05/17/2005-05/19/2005).



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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: Gianluca Luisi (Piano)
  • Notes: Temple due Pierre Nicole Paris 16 (05/17/2005-05/19/2005)
  • Running Time: 244 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Written: 1722-1740