JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - The Well-Tempered Clavier I

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - The Well-Tempered Clavier I - Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano) - 2-Disc Set - 028947927846 - Released: August 2014 - Deutsche Grammophon 002119902

Pierre-Laurent Aimard is to the piano what Pierre Boulez is to conducting. Analytical, austere, spartan, eremitical to the non-essential, and a strong proponent of new music. His long list of recordings include the music of Reich, Webern, Ligeti, Messiaen, Eötvös, Boulez, Ives, Carter, etc ... to name a few. The aforementioned characteristics are not to be confused with the dry, academic and emotionally barren playing of some pianists which, for the purposes of this review, need not be identified. The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach is, after all, a master thesis or grand theorem on harmonic principles and applications, all presented with a touch of genius. Actually composed for the clavichord and/or harpsichord, nothing in music is more austere, sober or purely distilled than a Bach fugue. Music's laws worked out on paper, plain and simple, where the beauty of it all lies in the meticulous details that Bach added to the mix.

Aimard's disposition is perfectly suited for this music. His clear and articulate phrasing, along with frugal pedalling, never loses track of the leading voice and allows for an increased harmonic and contrapuntal clarity at all times. The point to his interpretation is first and foremost the music itself, and not the manipulation of the instrument's sound. The printed score editions of this music contain very few dynamic or expressive markings. If you like your Bach absolute and unadulterated, this new recording is for you.

Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2014