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J.S. Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier (Books I & II) Box set


Price: £32.85 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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£32.85 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Biography

András Schiff emerged in the last decades of the 20th century as one of the most respected pianists of his generation. He began piano lessons at the age of five with Elisabeth Vadász, and made his debut at the age of nine. At 14 Schiff began formal studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy with Professor Pál Kadosa, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados. Later he studied ... Read more in Amazon's Andras Schiff Store

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Frequently Bought Together

J.S. Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier (Books I & II) + Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 + Bach: Six Partitas, BWV 825-830
Price For All Three: £62.82

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Product details

  • Performer: Andras Schiff
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (10 Sept. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: ECM New Series
  • ASIN: B008NR8YXC
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,780 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. No. 1 In C Major, BWV 846: Prelude
2. No. 1 In C Major, BWV 846: Fugue
3. No. 2 In C Minor, BWV 847: Prelude
4. No. 2 In C Minor, BWV 847: Fugue
5. No. 3 In C-Sharp Major, BWV 848: Prelude
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. No. 13 In F Sharp Major, BWV 858: Prelude
2. No. 13 In F Sharp Major, BWV 858: Fugue
3. No. 14 In F Sharp Minor, BWV 859: Prelude
4. No. 14 In F Sharp Minor, BWV 859: Fugue
5. No. 15 In G Major, BWV 860: Prelude
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 1 In C Major Prelude
2. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 1 In C Major Fugue
3. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 2 In C Minor Prelude
4. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 2 In C Minor Fugue
5. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 3 In C Sharp Major Prelude
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 13 In F Sharp Major Prelude
2. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 13 In F Sharp Major Fugue
3. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 14 In F Sharp Minor Prelude
4. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 14 In F Sharp Minor Fugue
5. Das Wohltemperirte Clavier: No 15 In G Major Prelude
See all 24 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

As a young pianist, András Schiff earned wide esteem for his 1980s recordings of the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach; in recent years, as part of his long-term relationship with ECM, he has gone back to Bach as a sage veteran, earning more acclaim for his New Series recordings of the Goldberg Variations (2003) and the six Partitas (2009). Now, using his own Steinway, Schiff turns his focus to the 48 preludes and fugues of The Well-Tempered Clavier, making studio recordings in Lugano of both books for this 4-CD set.

An iconic inspiration for composers from Mozart and Beethoven to Chopin and Brahms and beyond, The Well-Tempered Clavier has long been considered the Old Testament of the keyboard literature (with Beethoven's piano sonatas as the New Testament). In his liner notes, Paul Griffiths underscores the suitability of Bach's timeless keyboard work for the modern piano: "Bach's inquiry into so many nuances, of touch, of interplay between hands and between contrapuntal lines, of character and of expressivity, has helped form keyboard technique as we know it, and his music belongs to the instrument of Beethoven, of Chopin, of Debussy, of Kurtág - especially when that instrument is played with the mastery and sensitivity of Schiff in these performances (...) Noteworthy is his floated melody and his rhythmic sense - his realization that so much of Bach's music is song or dance. Grandeur and intimacy are also here. Wit, too."

In the introduction to his ECM release of Bach's Partitas, Schiff laid out his motivation for revisiting music he first recorded two decades before: "Great music is far greater than its performers. We try our entire lives to unveil its secrets and to convey its unique message. Even if we never quite reach the imaginary goal, our many performances give us experience and knowledge that were hidden from us years ago. We form a better understanding of its structure and inner workings. Horizons broaden before our eyes."

"Mr. Schiff is, in Bach, a phenomenon. He doesn't so much perform it as emit, breathe it." - New York Times

Personnel: András Schiff (piano)

BBC Review

The two books of preludes and fugues that make up Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier – one complementary pair in every key of the chromatic scale twice over, 48 in total – is one of the greatest achievements in the keyboard repertory.

Debate still rages about exactly which instrument, or instruments, Bach intended them to be played on – clavichord, harpsichord, organ, possibly even an early prototype piano.

But one thing is certain: the composer could never have imagined these quintessentially Baroque works on a modern concert grand.

Yet, for at least a century, Bach's 48 has been the Everest which all great pianists aspire to climb, and many have done so with utterly convincing and profoundly eloquent results.

One such is Hungary-born British pianist András Schiff, whose previous recording of The Well-Tempered Clavier for Decca in the 1980s won many admirers, but who now turns to them again with the advantage of three decades' more experience and maturity.

In his intelligently argued essay accompanying this ECM album, Schiff poses the questions, “Is it permitted to play Bach on an instrument that he couldn't have known? If it isn't, whose permission do we need to ask?”, concluding that the bottom line for all modern Bach performance is simply “good taste”.

This is something that Schiff's latest recording demonstrates in abundance. Nothing is overstated or obtrusive, the music treated with utmost respect.

In the years since his previous version, Schiff has ironed out, or, rather, seamlessly integrated his more contrived idiosyncrasies, resulting in a gloriously homogeneous, completely right-feeling account.

The often-complex multi-layered textures are rendered with crystal clarity, not just because Schiff has determined largely to eschew the sustaining pedal – overused prop of many pianists, a device not yet invented in Bach's time – but also because of his unique brand of restrained pianism and timeless stylistic manner.

For more flamboyant and unashamedly pianistic – but equally valid – versions, we have the likes of Samuel Feinberg's vintage 1959 account, while harpsichord enthusiasts should investigate Christine Schornsheim's 2011 version on Capricco, played on a 1624 Ruckers instrument such as Bach might have known.

Ultimately, Schiff transcends all questions of instrumentation, leaving us with the wonderful impression that we are listening to Bach, pure and simple.

--Graham Rogers

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By C Allen on 7 Oct. 2012
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
This recording is simply marvellous. I'd heard an exert on the radio and on a whim checked it out on Amazon. Download was about half the price of the CD set, and crucially in the heat of the moment, significantly quicker! So I downloaded it, and was not disappointed. Bach as instant gratification? You bet. Within about 15 minutes I knew I'd done the right thing, and had a sublime Saturday morning with the Well-Tempered Clavier. Anyone who doesn't already own a version of this may be surprised by the fact that there is yards and yards of music here. Every part of it is fascinating in its own right and I have no doubt that I will be rewarded by these MP3s for years to come. I got my money's worth the day I bought it, so to give it less than five stars would just be wrong. My old harpsichord disks will be sitting on the shelf for a long time, if not forever, utterly eclipsed by Schiff. If you're not sure, thinking "oh, fifteen quid sound a lot" then get over it and click "buy". You will thank yourself.

However, reading the page for the CD set, reviews elsewhere, and indeed the radio coverage which got me interested in the first place I have to wonder how much we're missing with the download. The liner notes (quoted in Amazon's own text) sound fascinating: for example, part of the joy of Schiff's playing here is the fairly prim style without use of pedals. Clearly, it works with this piece, but as a non-pianist I would never have understood this had I not read about it. My point is: how much are we missing? CDs naturally cost more; but if we're talking four disks, a plastic box and a paragraph about pedals then it's an easy choice. But how much more is there?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bubo on 23 Mar. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For reference I own many recordings of this master work: the Fisher version, Gould's, Richter's, Angela Hewitt's, Pollini's (Book 1), a harpsichord version of Book 1 and one I won't bother mentioning.

I think this may well be my favourite or at least up there with Richter and Gould. Unlike the latter two, however, Schiff's new recording is less resolved, more open-ended and in its ultra-delicate and deliberate playing forces one oddly to pay more attention to the notes rather than revel in the interpretative genius of say, a Sviatoslav Richter.

In addition the tempoes are often slower so allow for a more reflective and concentrated experience; I think what wins me over with Schiff is that the recording is translucent and immediate, like Gould, but without the x-ray quality and manneristic reading of Gould's classic reading. To put it in layman's terms, it is far more "chilled".

It is also far less resolved. The pieces unfold before one's ears without having been sauced out to death at the outset so one listens to them develop not having a clear idea how they will develop, allowing for a more open-ended and open-minded experience.

I strongly recommend this set which is for me almost definitive along with Richard Goode's cycle of the complete Beethoven sonatas.

Four stars and a half to five stars.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Anand Ramachandran on 10 Sept. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is really remarkable. I thought Andras Schiff's recording of the Well tempered on Decca was excellent. This surpasses even that benchmark recording. ECM's recording too is fantastic. Schiff is a born Bach player whereas his Beethoven though of a high standard is uneven. In this recording, he makes Bach's music really sing. But he does not take agogic liberties as Angela Hewitt does in her second recording of the Well tempered.
I feel I am hearing the music afresh. This set is indispensable and is likely to set the bar for many years. There is hope yet for the human species if it can produce music and recordings of this quality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Alsop on 8 Feb. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Beautiful playing, warm, clear sound. This even surpasses Schiff's earlier Decca recordings of the same material. The music is controlled and often sparse but there's warmth as well as restraint. All of life is here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Textiles fan on 11 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Even the most complex piece seems transparent, translucent in the way it was no doubt meant to be by the composer. This simply is an extremely beautiful recording!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MR T LEE on 11 Dec. 2012
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
I have his first recording of the 48. This is even better, with good brisk pace when needed and subltlety of interpretation. Great variation and range.
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