- Conductor: None
- Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
- Audio CD (9 Jan. 2012)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: CD
- Label: Delphian Records
- ASIN: B006LYJE2E
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,176 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II CD
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A recognised authority in twentieth-century and contemporary music, Peter Hill turns for the first time on disc to another of his lifelong preoccupations: the music of J.S. Bach. On this new recording, Hill brings his customary scholarly acumen and crystalline musical intelligence to bear on Book Two of the 48 music of unsurpassed inventiveness.
Mentioning all the high spots would require too many words. Hill s lyrical way with the preludes is a consistent joy, and the gentle, unobtrusive control of tempo makes some of them sound like baroque improvisations. He can play with delicacy and humility. Each fugue is so carefully voiced, each entry so perfectly weighted. It s easy to feel slightly oppressed and overwhelmed by this magisterial work; Hill makes it approachable without underplaying the compositional mastery...this is essential listening. --TheArtsDesk.com
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
PS - I own Gould, Hewitt, Barenboim, Schiff, Jarrett, Richter, and Tureck recording of the WTC. Plus a few more. All have high and low points. Overall, Hill is one of the best. I also have Book I by him - equally good.
His approach to balancing the voices is about something like focus on long lines and shaping the music in expressive ways. It's neither completely homogenous like the harpsichord, nor about highlighting fugue subjects. So we're on the right track here. I like the harpsichord, but a pianist shouldn't compete with the harpsichord in producing contrapuntal clarity, so he is left with expressiveness for the most part.
Sometimes I do wish Peter Hill trusted the polyphony more and highlighted melody less, as in the C major prelude. Sometimes I feel his rubato decreases the power of the music instead of increasing it (C major prelude again). Sometimes I think he is too slow, as in the C sharp minor prelude, sometimes I think he is too fast, as in the F minor fugue. I'm also not always a fan of his articulation. He is no Glenn Gould, thank goodness, but sometimes I wish he didn't sabotage the beauty of a phrase by applying unnecessary staccato, as near the end of the F minor fugue.
Nevertheless, it is of course sophisticated playing, and considering the shortage of this sort of renderings, this recording is truly a must for anyone who is interested in this work being played on the piano.