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on 24 September 2008
In a way, this is the best possible version of the WTC to someone who is looking for a balanced, deep and totally honest version.

The harpsichord is a beautiful Flemish-French (recent research shows it is rather more French than Flemish) harpsichord (Gilbert's own) that has a marvelous sound: rich and deep, and yet bright and clear.

Professor Gilbert's version is as new now as it was when it was released. It is totally respectful of the music (you won't find eccentricities, here, just the music but superlatively played). He has a very cantabile sense of the music - every voice is respected - and his Bach is phrased almost as a dance, rather than as gesturing. He seems to belie Leonhardt, when the Dutch says that the piano was meant to sing and the harpsichord to speak; in Gilbert's hands, it really sings).

Do not expect strong chords, abrupt contrasts or anything like that. Gilbert's version is for the connoisseur rather than the Fireworks enthusiast. If you examine, in detail, the way he plays, you will find that every voice is subtly sung, that the amount of work and serious thought he lavished into Bach's music is prodigious.

One of the top versions of the WTC (this is valid to both WTC I and II
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on 19 March 2008
I've owned the original LPs since they came out - which (I am astonished to say) is nearly 25 years ago. They still seem very fresh - unfussy, flexible but controlled, beautifully phrased. The emphasis is on the interpretation rather than the 'instrumentation', as Gilbert uses registration changes very sparingly, so all his musical points have to be made through the way he lets the music breathe. I guess his interpretation is 'middle of the road', in that it attempts no extravagances, but that is far too tame a description for this recording -which remains a classic.
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