BACH: THE WELL-TEMPERED CLAVIER, BOOK 2 (COMPLETE) - BARENBOIM (3 CDs)
“There have been times when Barenboim's omnivorous musical appetite has threatened his musical stability and reflection but here, revisiting Bach – a childhood 'friend' – his individuality and poetic richness erase all stale notions of pedantry or aridity. There is no sense of received wisdom, only a vital act of recreation that captures Bach's masterpiece in all its first glory and magnitude; no simple-minded notions of period style or strict parameters but a moving sense of music of a timeless veracity.
The romantic influences of Furtwängler and Edwin Fischer can be sensed throughout. What a triumphant sense of homecoming he achieves in the Fugue from No 2, what musical rather than academic authenticity in the doubling or filling-out of the Sixth Prelude. His flight through the 15th Prelude is a marvel of lightness and vivacity and in the Fugue from No 17 every voice is given its due without a trace of that heavy underlining beloved by those intent on explaining their explanation.
Purists may quibble over this or that phrase or detail (and few performances of the 48 have been so richly coloured or inflected) but that is surely their loss. For Barenboim, Bach is the most 'romantic' of composers and his imaginative fullness and delicacy laugh to scorn a less bold or inclusive view. How Jacqueline du Pré, Barenboim's late wife, would have warmed to such performances; this is music-making after her own heart. Superb sound.”