J S Bach
The Well-tempered Clavier, Book Two
£14.00 (2 CDs)
This masterwork has for three hundred years been considered Bach’s greatest contribution to keyboard music. Recognised as a foundation of excellence in playing technique and imaginative composition, it has inspired later geniuses from Mozart and Haydn through to Shostakovich.
The work forms two books, each containing 24 preludes and 24 fugues, covering all the keys of the chromatic scale. Featuring a huge variety of style and mood, it makes for memorable and highly entertaining listening. This double CD contains Book Two of the “48”.
The instrument used in this recording is my 2016 harpsichord after an original by Nicholas Celini. (You may also be interested to see how I went about restoring the original, dated 1661.)
Total playing time CD One: 72.01
Total playing time CD Two: 75.33
This recording has prompted these responses from experts in the field:
It’s impossible not to remain fully engaged through each and every work in this breathtakingly beautiful recording, which is as near perfect as would seem possible. The harpsichord’s voice has a wonderful clarity and fullness, the recording is crystal clear, and the performance exquisite and completely absorbing.
Carolyn Winter for Capriccio Baroque
I have really enjoyed this recording: really distinct from many others which I have, especially regarding inégales, tempo choice and ornamentation. It really sheds a fresh light on these pieces. I also found the booklet very interesting. Now I must have Book One as well.
Elmar de Pauw
As he did with Book 1 (M/A 2019), Booth produces a stimulating performance on a harpsichord he designed and built. Along with his booklet essay, his work is a master class presenting new ideas about rhythmic profiles, tempo, and ornamentation. Book 2 here has the same virtues. He demonstrates a remarkably effective formula for playing Bach on the harpsichord: pick a patient and steady tempo, install a very subtle rhythmic inequality into your brain, and then let the piece play itself out easily with intuitive musicianship. The inequality is so tiny that it can’t be notated, but when other players don’t use it the absence is felt (like making oatmeal but forgetting the dash of salt). The piece must be learned so well that there is no struggle or further manipulation. Booth is a world-class player.
Bradley Lehman - American Record Guide Review