I think the Well Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach is THE best music ever written by anyone ever! It's just perfect, I've been listening to and playing some of this music for about 15 years now and I never get tired of it, there is so much variety and so many brilliant musical ideas here that you never really understand all of it and so it is constantly surprising you.
On the surface this music may not be complex it is just a prelude and a fugue in all the major and minor keys, but it has the same kind of perfection as you find in nature it is like looking at water or a fire or a beautiful tree, the basic form is simple but it has an endless variety to it so you never get bored.
But when I first heard this music I was a bit dissapointed, it all sounded the same, but after a few more listenings I slowly discovered it's beauty and perfection.
I have many recordings of the WTC (Richter, Jarrett, Gould, Jando) all good but this recording by Andras Schiff is my favorite, his playing is deep and smooth and he brings out the calmness and the spiritual side of this masterpiece, just perfect.
For those who would like to play this Masterpiece check out the books by Siglind Bruhn which cover both books one and two of the WTC, they are realy good and go deeply into the work covering technical formal and performing aspect of the work.
on 4 May 2006
This is really special. It deserves to rank with Richter profound and Barenboim's dramatic readings as one of the most illuminating and life-enhancing performances of Bach's pianistic bible. Schiff values clarity above all else, but his tonal palette is second to none's and his dynamic range is very carefully thought out to provide a deep spiritual experience in each and every one of the 48. The very first and well-known prelude in C-major is given what is to my mind one of the best readings ever -- it makes the listener discover many new nuances, even if he/she has heard the piece many times over. By the time that Schiff performs the sublime c-sharp minor prelude and fugue he reaches transcendental heights, in this Everest among music's high peaks. Shame that Decca have not repackaged both books in a more economical format. But don't let this stop you from buying this.