The 48 preludes and fugues of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier are a unique and extraordinary creation. Bach's motives were to master the genre, to help his students develop their artistry, and to glorify God.
That word "clavier" has many connotations: in Bach's day it embraced all keyboard instruments, whether clavichords, harpsichords, organs, or early pianos. And while a few brave spirits follow Ralph Kirkpatrick in playing these pieces on subtle clavichord, and diehard period musicians persist in playing them on the bolder harpsichord, most musicians now accept that their requirements are best rendered on the piano. "If Bach's music sounds 'wrong' on the piano," says our supreme keyboard Bachian Angela Hewitt, "then surely most of the blame must lie with the pianist."
There was no question of the music sounding wrong as the young Russian pianist Konstantin Lifschitz presented the second part of this great work. His mode was large and resonant, and as he powered his way through the first few pieces, it was clear that he was setting out to exploit the piano's armoury of effects to the limit. He took liberties with tempi, and used more pedal than one might at times have liked some of the fugues were a rich blur of sound, rather than independently moving voices but he held our attention by the sheer finesse with which he conceived the pieces.
All the joy in Bach's music was there in abundance, while the drama was imbued with a heroically Beethovenian quality. And the work really felt like the circular journey it is, with Lifschitz delivering the concluding pair of pieces in so virginally fresh a manner that they felt less like an end than a new beginning.Reuse content