Dantone opens book two with an exceptionally tender interpretation of the first prelude; this work is often played too quickly, too aggressively, but Danton is very humble in his performance of this piece, he lets the music take over rather than directing it too rigidly. His performance of the C sharp major prelude is a gem - his ornamentation is fresh and delightful, his phrasing subtle and inventive. He takes this piece and gives it new life, infusing it with joy and happiness. Even the following fugue takes on this tone, in spite of the radical difference between the two pieces.
Ottavio Dantone studied organ and harpsichord at and graduated from the Conservatory "G. Verdi" in Milan. Beginning his career at a young age, Dantone dedicated his studies to early music and to collaborating with various orchestras, acquiring considerable experience in basso continuo, in the art of which he is now considered an authority. In 1985, he was awarded the basso continuo prize at the International Paris Festival and in 1986, he received an award at the International Bruges Festival (two of the most renowned harpsichord festivals in the world).
Ten years ago Angela Hewitt recorded a version of The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I which dazzled the critical world and record-buying public. It was followed shortly afterwards by Book II which was similarly received. Now, fresh from her Bach World Tour—in which she performed the complete Well-Tempered Clavier from August 2007 until the end of October 2008 in 58 cities in 21 countries on six continents—Angela has made an entirely new recording of this most iconic of keyboard works.
As a young pianist, András Schiff earned wide esteem for his 1980s recordings of the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach; in recent years, as part of his long term relationship with ECM, he has gone back to Bach as a sage veteran, earning more acclaim for his New Series recordings of the Goldberg Variations (2003) and the six Partitas (2009). Now, using his own Steinway, Schiff turns his focus to the 48 preludes and fugues of The Well-Tempered Clavier, making studio recordings in Lugano of both books for this 4-CD set.
The Well-Tempered Clavier (Das Wohltemperirte Clavier in the original German title), BWV 846–893, is a collection of solo keyboard music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. He first gave the title to a book of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, dated 1722, composed "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study." Bach later compiled a second book of the same kind, dated 1742, but titled it only "Twenty-four Preludes and Fugues." The two works are now usually considered to comprise The Well-Tempered Clavier and are referred to respectively as Books I and II. The Well-Tempered Clavier is generally regarded as one of the most influential works in the history of Western classical music...