J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 and 2

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Lëon Berben
Individual Works:The Well-Tempered Clavier, book 1&2
BWV 846-893
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Brilliant Classics
Catalog Number:99362/1-4
Year Released/Recorded:1999
Total Playing Time:cd1: 56'21
cd2: 56'41
cd3: 69'19
cd4: 79'01
Comments:Eric van Reede said:

A young performer with a good feeling of tradition and a beautiful instrument. The strong feeling keeps you listening.

Review by Jan Hanford:

A terrible performance. His use of rubato in the most inappropriate places disrupts the intrinsic mathematical feel and rhythm of some of the works (i.e. Book 1, Prelude No. 6 in D minor). Also, he often plays with too much energy, creating a noisy, crashing sound, rather than beautiful and lively. There are also plodding moments that are really boring. I do not recommend this recording; there are too many other good performances around to even bother with this one.

Jim Chapman said:

In a romantic, expressive tradition of Bach playing--which really is still alive here and there--this is an alert and well-felt performance. If you're absolutely allergic to rubato in Bach, you should pass on this. But if you're sometimes receptive to a non-mathematical approach, this is one of the most successful "old school" performances on harpsichord I've ever heard. The tempo modifications always serve a genuine expressivity; there's none of the maddening quality when a performer tries to insert little "touches" in a way that feels externally applied. This is very organic playing, and a different way to hear these great works. (The sub-budget price doesn't hurt either.)

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Eric van Reede
  • Jim Chapman
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:11/13/1999