J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Angela Hewitt
Individual Works:
Book I: Preludes & Fugues Nos. 1-24
BWV 846-869
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Hyperion
Catalog Number:CDA67301/2
Year Released/Recorded:Recorded in the Beethovensaal
Ger. on 5-7 June 1997 (CD1) and 17-19 December 1997 (CD 2)
Total Playing Time:116'37 "
Comments:Todd M. Billeci said:

An outstanding disc containing some jaw-dropping virtuosity. The fine modern digital recording is intimate and realistic, and much less resonant than Hyperion piano recital discs of older vintage. The fine liner notes are in her own hand and provide valuable details about each prelude and fugue, including a miniature score of prelude & fugue subjects.

Many standout performances are on CD 2 (Preludes & Fugues Nos. 13-24). Her G major fugue is astonishingly transparent and facile. The G minor & G-sharp minor fugues are taken at a very rapid tempo. The isolated quarter-note opening the subject of the A major fugue is struck sforzando & she writes in her notes that it represents the word "ouch!" ... affording in stretto: "ouch!-ouch!-ouch!" .... I will never think of this fugue the same way again. Her B minor prelude is quick, the B minor fugue one of the few truly ravishing readings. My personal favorite is her B-flat minor: the prelude opens pianissimo with profound restraint; the fugue is on the fast side, evoking a tenderness that is deeply moving & reaching a powerful yet unexaggerated

Of interest in Preludes & Fugues Nos. 1-12 is the overplayed C major prelude, which Hewitt approaches without pedal using the technique of "overlapping" only heard elsewhere on a Rosalyn Tureck CD. The presto of the C minor prelude is blazing-fast and articulated. In the C minor fugue, it appears that she uses both legato & staccato phrasing of the countersubject in its many guises. The C-sharp minor, E-flat minor and F minor are played unsentimentally.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Todd M. Billeci
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:10/17/1998