Brendel is an incredible pianist, and a scholar of music as much as a virtuouso. This is a beautifully played and beautifully CHOSEN collection of music. In an interview included in the notes, Brendel points out that many of Bach's works seem to be written for instruments of the future: some pieces like the Chromatic Fantasy seem to be failures as written for the harpsichord but are wonderful played on the piano.
I don't miss whatever authenticity might be lost, then, by playing these on the piano. I loved how simple it was to hear the different strands of melody that wind their way around each other in the first movement of the Italian Concerto, and to hear how clearly Brendel articulated the rushing melody of the Prelude in A Minor. He's amazing: I started with his recordings of Schubert but am starting to prefer his versions of Beethoven and Bach as well.
Even his choices of what to play are revelatory. The Busoni arrangement of Ich 'ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ is astounding. It was only after I ran out, got a book of the Busoni arrangements and tried to play the prelude myself that I realized how hard it was to play this (technically) fairly simple piece as beautifully and delicately as Brendel plays it.
Anyone who thinks that Bach is a dry, academic composer - or who wrote music that is coldly beautiful but not heartfelt - needs to hear these three minutes of music to know how much love went into everything he wrote.