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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 9 May 2012
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This review is from: J.S.Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (Audio CD)
I have become accustomed to so much anonymous pianism these days when superb technique is taken for granted but the players' relationship to the music is opaque at best and here we have pianism of such striking individuality, personality and lack of showiness that my faith in contemporary pianism is all but restored. Indeed Peter Hill's reputation is significantly as a magisterial performer of contemporary music so it comes as a bit of a surprise to find him devoting his virtuoso technique and fertile mind to Bach's '48'. Well, no contradictions here for this Bach is limpid and virile by turn, the resources of the piano (pedal, dynamics, etc) used throughout with exemplary taste and refinement. The part playing is a model of clarity, the fugues imbued with a wonderful musicality and mercifully without archaic notions of the subjects constantly having to draw attention to themselves. It is the 'rightness' of it all which makes the strongest impression. Superb recording (from Cardiff University) - a testament to the skills of the producer/engineer, Paul Baxter. This to my mind is destined to become one of the great Bach recordings of all time to rank alongside Fischer, Tureck and Gould.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critics Agree - It's Brilliant!, 27 Jan 2012
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Tim Heath (Banbury, Oxfordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: J.S.Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (Audio CD)
The Scotsman
Kenneth Walton
Rating: *****
BRITISH pianist Peter Hill is better-known for his championship of contemporary music, but as this delightful presentation of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II reveals, he has an equal penchant for earlier styles. Hill's approach is to capture the engaging balance between the crisp clarity of the music and its innate lyrical soul. He makes no apologies for the expressive potential of the piano, but simply uses that to harness the universality of the music, from its pre-echoes of early classicism to sparks of undeniable romantic mood-painting. Never once, though, does it sell out Bach's stylistic integrity.

The Guardian
Andrew Clements
Rating: ****
Peter Hill's eminence as a Messiaen scholar and as an outstanding interpreter of his piano music has tended to overshadow his qualities as a pianist in a much wider range of repertoire. But JS Bach is also a special interest of Hill's, and this account of the less often performed half of the 48 Preludes and Fugues underlines what a fine and typically unflashy pianist he is. Every performance here is quite audibly the product of careful consideration; every musical decision, whether over tempi, phrasing, or dynamics, seems utterly logical. Yet there's nothing didactic about the results, just a wonderfully natural unfolding of these pieces, in which Hill is never ashamed to make full use of the tonal resources of the modern piano. The crystalline quality of his quiet playing is a regular pleasure. With luck this is the first in a series of Bach recordings from Hill, and let's hope Book I of the 48 follows soon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance on the piano, 11 Jun 2014
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This review is from: J.S.Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (Audio CD)
This 2-CD set of Book 2 from "48", played on the piano, is highly recommendable. It sounds like a contemplative, private performance at home rather than a public concert in a large concert hall. But, isn't it how it should be performed? Bach's intended use of the whole work was "for the profit and use of musical youth desiring instruction, and especially for the pastime of those who are already skilled in this study."

Peter Hill eschews an extravert style as is often adopted by many keyboard players, and instead, focuses on the inner beauty of Bach's contrapuntal compositions. He plays some of the pieces (for instance, Nos. 13 and 17) much slower than many other players. But, since no tempo markings or instruments were indicated by the composer, it's a matter of personal taste. I think this great work can accommodate a diversity of tempi, style or instrumentation.

As far as performances on the piano are concerned, my most favourite recording has been the classic one by Richter (on RCA or Sony) who fully uses the piano's flexibility and versatility. But, I'm sure I'll enjoy listening to the present recording by Peter Hill as well for a long time to come.

The recording, made in 2010/11, is first-rate, and the sound is totally natural.
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J.S.Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II
J.S.Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II by Peter Hill (piano) (Audio CD - 2012)
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