J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Sviatoslav Richter
Individual Works:24 Preludes and Fugues, BWV 870-893
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Le Chante Du Monde
Catalog Number:LDC 278528/29
Year Released/Recorded:1972-73
Comments:John Schwartz said:

Without peer.

Bertram Cruikshank said:

These abominations of Bach's WTC are a genuine travesty. Avoid these recordings as you would the plague! Richter relies TOO MUCH upon the use of the damper pedal throughout the entire recording. This effectively turns the polyphony of Bach into a cacaphony of noise and echos, which is undecipherable even to the most sophisticated Bach conoisseur. It is highly reminiscent of when young children who, in their first year of piano lessons, first discover the effect of the damper pedal, and begin playing entire pieces with it held down, laughing and giggling all the while. As a pianist myself, I am a firm believer that the damper pedal has no place whatsoever in the music of Bach, and the sostenuto pedal is only to be used on those rare occasions which require the sustainment of notes while others are played, which could not otherwise be reached by sustaining the notes with your fingers. Say what you like about Glenn Gould's interpretations. Though he hums incessantly,(and who in their right mind wouldn't over music this good!!) absolutely no other recording artist has more clearly distinguished between all of the individual melodic lines of these contrapuntal gems, while maintaining a unified harmonic structure throughout. In the final analysis of these Richter interpretations, if Bach were alive today, I guarantee these nightmares would kill him!!

Tim Long said:

I'm astonished that this recording has received so little critical notice let alone acclaim. One would have thought that when a pianist of Richter's stature recorded one of the pinnacles of the keyboard repertoire (and complete too!) someone would at least think it worthy of comment (which I have been unable to find in any of the easily-available reviews)

John Grant said:

Not quite as stunning as his studio recordings of Book 1 of the WTC, but Richter achieves greatness in his reading of the slowest, longest, and most difficult fugues. He penetrates the depths of Bach in these instances, and no one else, at least no one else on the the piano, comes close to him.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • John Schwartz
  • Bertram Cruikshank
  • Tim Long
  • John Grant
Date First Submitted:08/27/1995