J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Kenneth Gilbert
Individual Works:Disc 1: BWV 846 - BWV 857
Disc 2: BWV 858 - BWV 869
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Arkiv
Catalog Number:474 221-2
Year Released/Recorded:1983
Total Playing Time:CD 1: 55'27
CD 2: 55'20
Comments:Jordan Sayers said:

This is a re-issue of Gilbert's 1984 release of Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier, with Book Two coming soon. Gilbert plays on a double-manual harpsichord built by the Flemish maker Jan Couchet in 1671 (it was enlarged in the 18th century by Frenchmen Blanchet and Taskin). For this recording, the harpsichord was tuned in equal temperament by Davitt Moroney.
This cd has a similar flavour to the older Gustav Leonhardt recording with thoughtful ornamentation (not over-done) although the sound quality on Gilbert's is much nicer. While Ms Hanford (in a review of the original release) states that she would have preferred less reverb, I enjoy the acoustics of this recording very much (recorded in the high-ceilinged stone-walled Italian Room of the Chartres Museum). In fact, I'm surprised that there so little reverb, based on the location of the recording.
In summary, Gilbert's Well-Tempered (along with Leonhardt's) remains the standard by which all others are compared. Now that this cd has finally been re-issued, I can not think of any other recording of the Well-Tempered deserving of my highest recommendation.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Jordan Sayers
Date First Submitted:05/28/2003