Book reviews and commendations

Full details of the book can be found on the Did Bach Really Mean That? website.

“Did Bach Really Mean That?
- deceptive notation in Baroque keyboard music”

‘It should come as no surprise that Colin Booth, who will be well-known to many readers as a harpsichordist, recording artist, and harpsichord maker of distinction has waited until now to produce this work on baroque keyboard notation. Such an undertaking would be impossible without a working lifetime’s knowledge of the repertoire.’

Dr Peter Mole, writing for the British Clavichord Society Journal, Spring 2011

‘Take a look at almost any handwritten or printed score from the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, or most later editions which haven’t been ‘got at’ by an interventionist editor, and you will be confronted with a built-in contradiction. The lack of detailed instructions in terms of dynamics, phrasing, tempi, even certain aspects of rhythm and ornamentation, can at first seem like a vision of uncluttered and liberating clarity. On the other hand, the level of creativity and inventiveness demanded of a performer in order to make expressive and exciting music out of what is little more than implied by all these rows of notes must require a depth of study which is daunting to say the least […]
‘Colin Booth has come up with a magnificent text, illuminated by a multitude of useful musical examples […] Bach’s name is invoked in the title, but the examples involved cover the entire spectrum of European styles […]
‘Booth’s book is therefore massively useful, and what I like about his writing is his all-embracing and non-dogmatic approach to this subject and its individual aspects. Take any point of contention with the piece you are studying, look up the easily found relevant section in this book, and your mind will be opened to the fluid nature of notation, introduced to references and statements which provide clues towards interpretation, and offered intelligent ways in which such music can be performed in a way defensible against criticisms of lack of authenticity.’

Dominy Clements, musician, writer and composer,
writing for, February 2011

‘Colin Booth’s knowledge of actual keyboard music is considerable and it is evidenced in the wealth of musical examples he supplies; this very breadth would allow the book to be useful for reference when meeting with rhythmic challenges. His appendices cover some relevant passages translated from Couperin, Frescobaldi, Saint Lambert, and Quantz and look in more depth at some of the notational problems within the Goldberg Variations and the Allemandes of the Six Partitas […]
‘No less than two hundred and eighty-one musical examples illustrate his desire to encourage the player to become more flexible and, in fact, more musical. Here he has the enormous advantage of being a harpsichordist worth listening to on the concert platform, and therefore one who literally practises what he preaches; for this reason, I would encourage the reader to buy some of his recordings as well as his book.’

Penelope Cave, harpsichordist,
writing for BHS Sounding Board 4, May 2011

‘The book is absolutely first class: very learned yet imaginative and totally approachable. So much to learn from it, and so much to admire. Congratulations. I have already recommended it to several keyboard players.’

Sir Roger Norrington, conductor

‘The author’s research is overwhelming. Provided the reader is prepared to roll up his or her sleeves, this book gives the performer a wealth of information in a practical and non-didactic way, which will benefit all keyboard-players - pianists included.’

Stephen Kovacevich, pianist and conductor

‘This book is a “must read” for all musicians. Booth writes with a rare combination of learning and intuitiveness, practical insight and a clarity of reasoned argument that can only inspire. His elegant prose and apposite illustration make it a joy to read.’

David Titterington, organist and Artistic Director of the International Organ Festival at St Albans


The Did Bach Really Mean That? website has full information about the book, including a “Look Inside” excerpt from each chapter, unabridged reviews, and a Buy Now button.

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