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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landowska's Bach, 17 Jan 2004
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1 (Audio CD)
Although she had championed the playing of Bach's keyboard works on the harpsichord for most of her life, Wanda Landowska was not invited to record his "48" until she was 70 years old. The first third of Book One was recorded in New York in 1949. "If I am to complete this, my last will and testament," Landowska then said, "the recording equipment and team will need to be brought to my home in Connecticut." Her request was granted, and the project was ultimately concluded there in 1954. The result is a listening experience that no lover of Bach's works would want to be without. Here are thoughtful, vivid, grave and sparkling performances that command attention and live long in the memory. Some might argue that Landowska's specially-made Pleyel harpsichord is as far removed from Bach's keyboard instrument as is the modern pianoforte, and that her "grand manner" playing is outmoded today, but a few minutes listening should be enough to disarm all criticism. Listen to the grandeur of the eighth fugue and the bright sonorities heard in the second prelude, and you will have been introduced to the special magic that the combination of Bach and Landowska produced. Those familiar with the works will hear that Landowska alters the note values of the theme in the first fugue. In the accompanying essays which she supplies herself, she justifies the alteration, claiming her examination of the earliest manuscript revealed that additions were made later in a fresher ink. I wonder if forensic evidence has shown her to be right.
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