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Well Tempered Clavier Books I & II BWV 846-893

Samual Feinberg (Piano)

Samuel Feinberg’s Well Tempered Clavier

K-4

Bach: Well Tempered Clavier (Complete)
J.S. Bach: Well Tempered Clavier (The Art of Samuel Feinberg, Vol. 1)
Bach: Well Tempered Clavier-Samuel Feinberg, Vol. 1

 

WTC 1: 24 Preludes & Fugues BWV 846-869 [108:14 / 108:01]
WTC 2: 24 Preludes & Fugues BWV 870-893 [114:18 / 113:17]

Samuel Feinberg (Piano)

Russian Disc / Classical Record / Talents of Russia / Arlecchino [Vol. 1]

1959 / 1958-1961

4-CD / TT: 222:32 / 221:18

Recorded in Moscow, Russia.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com [RD] | Amazon.com [CR] Amazon.com [TOR] | Amazon.com [Arlecchino] | Amazon.com [Arlecchino]

Part 1

Donald Satz wrote (May 18, 2001):
Samuel Feinberg and I have had some trouble getting together. I had his 1959 complete set of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier but couldn't find it when I started reviewing the WTC Books. At some point I decided to order it, but that turned out to be a difficult proposition. So I just put myself on hold concerning the matter, figuring that the set would enter my life through some means/source. And that's what happened last week in the used bins at a local record store. Although it's hard to imagine why anyone would trade in the Feinberg set, that person has my strong appreciation for the transaction. He/she likely took the proceeds and purchased "A Tony Orlando & Dawn Retrospective".

This 4-cd set is on the Russian Disc label with a catalog number of 15013. It was released in 1994 and documents recording sessions held in Moscow in 1959. There are a host of Bach enthusiasts who swear by Feinberg's Bach performances, citing the singing and devotional qualities of his interpretations. I would just add that Feinberg tends to take many liberties with tempo and projection which some might well consider fascinating and highly expressive while others would call these liberties disruptive to what they feel is the natural flow of the music. Prior to starting the review process, I listened to the Feinberg set while doing a host of domestic chores. All I'll say at this point is that I frequently left those tasks and zoomed into the living room as if Feinberg was beckoning me to join him and Bach.

I'm going to go through each of Feinberg's Preludes & Fugues, comparing his performances to the best piano versions I have available; now and then, I'll also be referring to magical harpsichord readings.

Prelude in C major - I've commented in the past that this prelude *needs* some interpretation; otherwise, it's not much more than a pleasant series of scales. No artist on record provides a more expressive reading than Feinberg. He bends tempo and volume at will, and I love every second of it. Just as expressive as Tureck, Feinberg also invests the prelude with some of Gulda's drive to the finish line. In a sense, Tureck goes to the sides, Gulda goes forward, and Feinberg takes all directions. I do believe I prefer the Feinberg to these other two exceptional readings. This is a
great beginning.

Fugue in C major - The great beginning continues with Feinberg's C major Fugue. Grounded on stretto and inevitability, this fugue has been superbly represented by Gould and Richter. Feinberg joins them with a reading loaded with nuances. He has the courage and artistry to soften and slow down dramatically without losing any momentum; he gains poetry and contrast.

Prelude in C minor - All great beginnings come to an end, and the C minor Prelude finds Feinberg more than meeting his match in Glenn Gould. The C minor is one of Gould's magical Bach interpretations. With staccato, a sinister atmosphere, and the best build-up of tension I've heard in this work, Gould makes this a two-climax prelude of great distinction. Feinberg is like a bullet compared to Gould; I admire the technique and the feeling that can be absorbed within it, but he's just too fast to convey the degree of riches that Gould finds in the score. However, Feinberg is certainly competitive with the other faster versions on record.

Fugue in C minor - Feinberg takes the powerful approach, and there's nothing wrong there. Richter does likewise and is one of my favorite performances. I do find that Feinberg's faster tempo doesn't give him the luxury of being as detailed as Richter. Still, it's an exciting and worthy performance.

Prelude in C sharp major - In addition to having a pristine nature, the prelude abounds with youthful joy and urgency. Among piano versions, I've preferred Hewitt's dreamy and mysterious reading, and Tureck's highly incisive and stark performance. Feinberg does have all the basic ingredients on display, but high levels of urgency, mystery, and incisiveness are not present. This is another competitive performance not rivaling the best.

Fugue in C sharp major - As joyful as its partner, the fugue also has a nostalgic element which blends beautifully into the music's fabric. Great performances range from Schiff's exquisitely delicate and expansive journey to pristine lands to Gulda's detailed and inevitable march to the finish line. There are also plenty of other excellent versions as well. Unfortunately, Feinberg's performance is not competitive. He's fast, probably too fast and sounds rushed at times. Much of the beauty of this music can't be found in Feinberg's performance.

Update: Any failing that I'm noticing from the performances happens when Feinberg adopts faster tempos than the norm; he loses quite a bit of beauty and lyricism while picking up only small amounts of excitement. So far, it's not an approach I appreciate and is holding his set back from being among the best.

Prelude in C sharp minor - Reflective and intensely sad, Feinberg is superb in the prelude and at Tureck's exalted level. Both bring out every nuance of the prelude with great urgency and beauty.

Fugue in C sharp minor - More demonstrative than its partner, the fugue's harmonic density intensifies as the music progresses. The prelude reflects and the fugue takes action. Feinberg has total command of the music as he tightens the tension while providing all the beauties of the piece. This is a version to stand tall next to Richter's magisterial reading.

Prelude in D major - With continuous semi-quavers coming from the right hand and a staccato bass line from the left, this prelude is joyful, playful, and deliciously sparkling. Hewitt is outstanding here with as she alternates volume levels and provides a bass line which is superbly projected. Feinberg is much quicker, less nuanced, and his bass line is nowhere as well projected as Hewitt's. Also, I can't say that his performance has great sparkle to it. The performance is competitive with other very fast recorded versions.

Fugue in D major - This is heroic music with double-dotting which Hewitt performs splendidly. Feinberg does quite well, but his double-dotting is not as pronounced or appealing as Hewitt's.

Prelude in D minor - The prelude, having an intense galloping element from the right hand's broken chords, is and foreboding in mood. My two favorite versions, Schiff and Fischer, present quite different conceptions. Schiff is slow paced and reveals all the details of the architecture; it's a wonderful performance to become immersed in. You don't want to be immersed in Fischer's version very long because he will terrorize you with great tension and menace. Feinberg takes the Fischer route and is very effective; he provides some rhythmic variation and beautifully slows down at the conclusion. But, there's no possibility of his out-menacing Fischer.

Fugue in D minor - All of Feinberg's greatest attributes as a Bach performing artist come to the forefront in the D minor Fugue. His intuitive knack to change tempo and volume at the right moment, great sense of momentum, and ability to find every morsel of poetry and nuance add up to the best reading I have ever heard. Feinberg reminds me some of Fischer's excellent performance loaded with tension, but Feinberg goes well beyond tension and gloriously opens up the music.

Prelude in E flat major - This majestic music comes in three sections: a toccata-like opening, slow ricercar, and a quick double fugue. It all adds up to one of Bach's most life-affirming creations. Tureck is magical in the E flat major; it feels as if she could take all life under her wings. Feinberg doesn't get to that point, and his penchant for taking very fast tempos is the reason. His opening is too fast as is the double fugue. The result is certainly competitive with most alternative versions but well below the highest level.

Fugue in E flat major - This is another instance where Feinberg uses a speed which provides no advantages. The music possesses great momentum and is light and joyful. Feinberg's fast tempo is not necessary to display those elements, and I don't think that the excitement route is the most rewarding for this fugue.

Prelude in E flat minor - This is the type of Bach's music that Feinberg is best at - slow and seriously reflective. I love the boldness he invests the music with and his fantastic accenting. There's not a better version to be heard.

Fugue in D sharp minor - This is also reflective music but with greater severity than the E flat minor, although the fugue also has wonderfully uplifting passages as well. Again, the music and Feinberg are a perfect match. The only version I prefer is Leonhardt's which has stronger inevitability.

Prelude in E major - Sublime joy combined with tension from the minor mode make this prelude one of Bach's most delightful. There are many great versions, and Feinberg's is one of them. I was a little concerned that he would turn on the speed burners, but his tempo is a little slower than Fischer's and no problem at all. His interpretation is not one of the more comforting, but the tension and joy are at high levels.

Fugue in E major - Exuberance and confidence are the emotional themes of this fugue which has running 16th notes in perpetual motion. I hear the music as heralding the beginning of a day of bustling commerce in times of great prosperity, sort of a tribute to individual industry. Jando and Schepkin perform strongly and with great vitality. That's also the approach taken by Feinberg, but it does not succeed very well. Although he starts off fine, Feinberg soon gets a little messy with the phrasing and sounds rushed. I don't find this performance a competitive one.

Update: When looking back to the Feinberg performances reviewed which I find no better than competitive, a relatively fast tempo is always involved. This has me thinking of Rosalyn Tureck who rarely gets into very fast speeds. She knows her strengths and with little exception plays into them. Feinberg doesn't seem to have this trait in full supply. Very fast tempos can work wonderfully and quite often for artists like Gould and Richter, but I don't hear anything that tells me Feinberg is in this particular category. Overall, his performances so far would easily rate a strong recommendation, but those fast speeds hinder them from being at Tureck's level.

Prelude in E minor - The prelude comes with two sections; the first is prayerful with growing levels of intensity, the second is rapid-fire and ominous. Suzuki's harpsichord version on BIS is as good as it gets. His first section is brooding and heating up with the smell of carnage in the air; the second section finds emotional hell and panic. This is a version to treasure. Feinberg's first section is also treasureable but for different reasons. He looks inward with prayer; Suzuki always has the periscope up. In the second section, Feinberg heads in Suzuki's direction but can't quite reach his level of impending doom. Overall, Feinberg is mighty fine in the E minor.

Fugue in E minor - The hell on earth anticipated by the prelude comes to fruition in the fugue; however, you have to switch from Suzuki to Richter to fully get there. I've called Richter's version the "slash and burn" fugue. With razor-sharp strokes, Richter's evil leaves nobody breathing or in one piece. The underside of human thought and activity has climbed to the top. But does Feinberg see it that way? If he does, it's only sporadically. Feinberg smooths out many of the razor-sharp and bold strokes and invests the music with more poetry than Richter. Since I'm not concerned much with the poetic possibilties, I'll take the relentless Richter every time.

Prelude in F major - Both the Prelude and Fugue give me a strong sense of community; joy is definitely the prevailing emotional theme. In the Prelude, Schepkin's version is exceptional with fast tempo, excitement, and a full measure of life's pleasures. The same can be said for Feinberg's version; he unfortunately does not enjoy the excellent sound provided Schepkin.

Fugue in F major - There isn't much point in comparing the Feinberg to the great performances by Jarrett or Fischer. Feinberg's in his own class; whether that's favorable or not depends on the listener's preferences. Personally, I find his frequent shifts in volume and tempo annoying; I also feel that he romanticizes the music. This is the first time in the set that I've had this reaction and hope it's the last.

Prelude & Fugue in F minor - This sequence is one of the most powerful in Book I. Intense levels of resignation and despair combine with some of the most beautiful and uplifiting passages to create its own world which is at once supremely optimistic and also neurotically headed toward destruction. The Prelude has a particularly gorgeous passage about 30" into the piece. The Fugue is even more intense, but also has wonderful rays of light provided by diatonic passages which contrast exquisitely with the prevailing moods.

I listened to outstanding performances from Gulda, Tureck, Fischer, Schiff, and Aldwell. Feinberg's Prelude is as good as any of those, but it's the Fugue where he eclipses all comers. When I was listening to Gulda, I thought that his could not be bettered; Feinberg changed that assessment from the start. He's incisively sharp and bold, never missing any nuance. His forward momentum is perfect while he also explores every note which leads him to a far greater level of expressiveness than Gulda or any other artist. I think of Gulda's version as a full-length story; Feinberg's is an epic.

I feel I've taken Feinberg far enough in Part 1, so I'll end on this note. Previously, I had mentioned the one aspect of Feinberg's performances which is not appealing - a tendency in a few pieces to not play into his strengths, to use faster than average tempos. That situation still exists at this point. However, the remainder of the performances, and that's most of them, are excellently performed and interpreted. In addition, a few are majestic and magical readings.

 

Part 2

Donald Satz wrote (July 1, 2001):
I haven't said much of anything about the sound on Feinberg's set. It's not good sound for 1959, probably less worthy than the sound on Tureck's set. However, it never gets in the way of enjoying the performances, and that's the main consideration. Neither advantageous or a hindrance to enjoyment, the sound quality is acceptable.

Prelude & Fuguein F sharp major - Both pieces are delicately etched and full of the joys of life. The Prelude is very comforting and playful with its syncopation; the Fugue has greater urgency and a more mature nature. My favorite versions are the Suzuki Prelude and Gould Fugue; Feinberg's performances are very good but not outstanding. His Prelude and Fugue are fast; this reduces the comfort level of the Prelude and allows little time for all the delectable phrasing of the Fugue. However, he conveys the moods of the music very well, and his Fugue brings out a maximum degree of urgency. Although Feinberg might be a little willful in this series, his identification with the core of the music is never in doubt.

Prelude in F sharp minor - The Prelude works equally well when played in a subtle and slow fashion or played quickly with great excitement and even a sinister quality. Tureck takes the former avenue with a staccato approach, while Schepkin powerfully delivers the speed, excitement, and sinister element. Feinberg is on Schepkin's wavelength with an exciting reading fully Schepkin's equal. When initially listening to Feinberg, I was wondering where the 'sinister' went, then realized that I was a prelude ahead of where I needed to be; the G major is highly optimistic music.

Fugue in F sharp minor - Richter's version of this 'all is lost' music is so incisive and of great impact. His stunning right hand projection and high degree of invincibility makes this a superb issue. Those two qualities don't ring out in Feinberg's version. His right hand is often quite subdued, and he tends to smooth out the Fugue. Another way of putting it would be that Feinberg places priority on resignation and sadness as witnessed by his frequently hushed presentation. By contrast, Richter sounds like a man who is ready for the black hole. He's in no rush to get there, but his strong step reveals his knowledge of its inevitability and that he accepts what he can not change. It depends on what you want from the Fugue, and I'll take the Richter interpretation. In addition, I think he delivers his approach more effectively.

Prelude & Fugue in G major - Not a sterling sequence for Feinberg. I find him too fast in both pieces. His Prelude is no better than the ones from Gould and Richter; all three sound more concerned with speed than conveying joy. In the Fugue, Feinberg is all over the place in that he continuously shifts tempo and volume; some of it is jarring and none of it flows well. I much prefer Tureck in the Prelude and Schiff for the Fugue.

Prelude & Fugue in G minor - A wonderful series for Feinberg. I've loved Schiff's expansive and Fischer's tension packed Preludes; Feinberg is even better as he provides both expansion and tension with a level of poetry not equaled. His Fugue is rather serene and represents a great contrast with the superb Gulda Fugue; Feinberg brings out a comforting assurance which is very uplifting.

Prelude in A flat major - Heroism and dance give way to an even more exuberant display forged by sixteenth notes which also provide the music's excitement. There's celebration in the air, and it's constant and exhilarating. Tureck's staccato version is wonderful, and Feinberg also fully conveys the celebratory proceedings. I have to favor Tureck as her approach is the more distinctive one.

Fugue in A flat major - Nobility prevades what's referred to as the "Cathedral" Fugue. Hope is strong but not demonstrative. Feinberg gives as tender and expansive a performance as any I've heard. His version stands tall next the Hewitt which provides a stunning cathedral effect with the right hand.

Prelude & Fugue in G sharp minor - In the Prelude, Japanese children are in the playground unaware of the horror that will strike the first time that an atom bomb is leveled at a human population. The music has a bitter/sweet nature. It is serene and delicate with a subtle cloud cover. In the Fugue, the immediate impacts of destruction have passed. Survivors can't believe what has been unleashed upon them; it's a new world without any foundation to hang on to. The music is bleak and closed. The fugue's subject in all four voices struggles to rise to the surface but is beaten down constantly.

Hewitt's Prelude is my favorite. She excellently conveys the nature of the music and also provides the most beautiful reading; her accenting is superb. Feinberg is much quicker and reaches the music's core, but he can't provide the beauty of the piece as Hewitt does. Richter's Fugue is a powerful reading without sentiment; the doors are fully closed and I can almost smell the carnage from the blasts and the fear from the living. Feinberg again is on the quick side and less severe than Richter. The reduced severity puts him in Schepkin's category, but Feinberg's poetry is not as fully realized. Overall, Feinberg's relatively fast tempos in both the Prelude and Fugue are not advantageous to conveying the themes presented.

Update: The one and only problem I have with Feinberg's WTC continues to hold his set back from being an essential acquisiton -a penchant for quick speeds which either do not well suit the music or do not play into Feinberg's strengths. However, even when this condition exists, there is no doubting Feinberg's intimate connection with Bach's sound world. The basic interpretations are spot-on; the approach to deliver the messages could sometimes be better.

Prelude & Fugue in A major - The Prelude is serene, delicate, and joyful. Jarrett best brings out these qualities, and Feinberg isn't far behind. He is more interesting in the Fugue which begins with eighth notes and then switches to sixteenth notes. Feinberg is highly distinctive during the first section as he smooths out the zig-zag motion but provides strong and decisive notes in a bell-like manner. Unfortunately, the sixteenth notes present a problem at Feinberg's speed; I had the feeling that the reading becomes too frenetic and loses focus.

Prelude & Fugue in A minor - The Prelude is graced with danger and excitement. Although Feinberg's performance doesn't measure up to Rosalyn Tureck's where every note cuts like a knife, it is exciting and ominous. Feinberg's reading of the Fugue is one that I find inconsistent and too fragmented. He flows along one moment, then jumps up and down the next. There's a fine line between expressiveness and willfulness, but I think that Feinberg crosses it in the Fugue.

Prelude & Fugue in B flat major - The Prelude is a frenetic-paced toccata which makes me think of chases, races, and guys hot on the heels of fast-walking women. Suddenly, the music gets heavier and improvisatory as energy continuously is built-up to great force and then released. Tureck is the personification of excitement and drama with her sharp delivery. Feinberg can't match her but does equal the better versions.

In the Fugue, a strong legato with skips in the subject make for a joyous experience tempered by increasing levels of worry as the Fugue progresses. Feinberg flies through this music; the projection of increased concern works well at this speed, but the music's joy has little depth. Check out Schiff's performance which is more uplifitng than any other version I've heard.

Prelude & Fugue in B flat minor - Both the Prelude and Fugue are among Bach's most outstanding WTC pieces; they have great emotional depth, an extremely heavy negative weight, and rays of light that seem to come from out of nowhere. The music is tailor-made for Feinberg, and he responds with exceptional performances. In the Prelude, the "funeral" aspect is strong, and the sinking of spirit is complete at the conclusion. For the Fugue, Feinberg excellently captures through stretti the inevitability and repetition of misery. In this series, Feinberg is every bit as good as the superb preludes from Gould and Aldwell, and the fugues of Gould and Tureck.

Prelude & Fugue in B major - Both are joyous, transparent, and share the same first four notes. For comparison, I listened to Bernard Robert's exceptionally comforting reading of the Prelude and the equally fine fugues of Richter and Schiff. Feinberg is at their high level.Initially, his fast pace in the prelude was not to my liking, but I was won over through additional listenings. Also, Feinberg's conclusion of the prelude is of one of majesty.

Prelude & Fugue in B minor - This series concludes Book I. The Prelude has a walking bass and two upper voices for imitation. Feinberg is surprisingly on the slow side with accenting and legato to die for; this is easily the best piano version I've heard. Unfortunately, it's back to the quick approach for Feinberg in the Fugue. Although an excellent version, I feel that Tureck's slower tempo results in greater impact of this music of great burden.

Summary for Book I: Strongly recommended for the idiomatic interpretations and a quite a few readings that are the best on record. My only reservation is that Feinberg sometimes travels at speeds faster than the music can well absorb. If he had reined himself in, his Book I would be as exceptional as Tureck's. As it stands, the set is one of the best ever recorded and as rewarding as the Gould and Gulda Book I issues. Tureck still is the commanding figure for this repertoire.

 

Part 3

Donald Satz wrote (August 9, 2001):
This brings us to Book II which is an even greater achievement than Feinberg's Book I. Here are some highlights pro and con:

Prelude & Fugue in C major - A stunning prelude starting with magical descending chromatic lines followed by a powerful and fast fugue. Feinberg conveys as much emotional depth as Tureck with a strong element of determination compared to Tureck's nobility. Both versions are excellent, but I prefer Feinberg for his momentum. The C major Fugue is problematic as Feinberg is done in by poor sound which often seems to place him in a distant hangar; this was a frustrating listening experience.

Prelude & Fugue in C sharp major - The Prelude is in the form of a lovely Adagio followed by a strong Allegro. Feinberg's Adagio is quick and loaded with urgency; his Allegro is certainly strong but perhaps a little hectic. The Fugue is relatively fast, highly poetic, and charged with energy.

Prelude & Fugue in C sharp minor - Feinberg hits the Prelude's melancholy button perfectly. He's perpetual motion in the Fugue, although I would have liked a little more drama in the reading.

Prelude & Fugue in E flat major - The Prelude's seamless, delicate, and joyful nature is fully captured by Feinberg; the accenting is stunning. Optimism reigns supreme in Feinberg's Fugue.

Prelude & Fugue in E major - Joyful and uplifting, the Prelude displays great subtlety of emotion which Feinberg brings to center-stage with a lovely and delicate approach. He is noble and quietly assertive in the Fugue.

Prelude & Fugue in F major - Feinberg is irresistably poignant in the Prelude. The Fugue is a fast gigue which I think works best with a confident swagger; Feinberg is so fast that any sense of swagger is largely non-existent.

Prelude in F minor - The Prelude has a wide palate of colors and emotions; no recorded performance examines this breadth as effectively as Feinberg who alternates high speed with thought-provoking slower passages.

Prelude & Fugue in F sharp major - Feinberg's Prelude is quite spacious and varied in dynamics, easily the equal of Tureck. The Fugue is a fine example of how much detail and variety Bach can deliver within a tight framework, this one in the form of a gavotte. Feinberg's fast tempo works beautifully here in an exciting and highly nuanced reading.

Prelude & Fugue in F sharp minor - Feinberg creates a sad world with a pervasive bleakness; there's no better version. The Fugue is brighter and more varied in mood than its partner. Again, Feinberg is superb and highly diverse. With both F sharp minor pieces, he displays a total immersion and command of the music; it sounds as if he wrote the music.

Prelude & Fugue in A flat major - I think of the prelude as expressing how wonderful life can be. The music is immediately uplifting and stays that way; reflection is another element that strongly impacts me. I couldn't ask for better than Feinberg; the diversity of expression and the beauty he conveys is complete. These same qualities permeate his interpretation of the Fugue as well.

Fugue in G sharp minor - This is one of my favorite Bach pieces of music. I think it's just perfect for the 'Apocalypse Aftermath'. Right from the start, the music is bleak and eerie. Momentum increases in the first half of the Fugue, and the second half conclusively puts an end to any semblance of life as we knew it. Moments of hope are fleeting and stamped out by a seamless and inevitable crushing of life's juices. This probably sounds quite extreme, but I always get these feelings while listening to the piece. Feinberg is exceptional, although I could have handled a little more strength in delivery.

Prelude in A minor - The Prelude is a two-part invention which is highly chromatic and loaded with the swapping of themes between voices; this creates a bizarre quality which seems to suspend the laws of nature. Feinberg fully brings all this out into total view.

Prelude & Fugue in B flat minor - A grave beauty with some gorgeous uplifting passages constitutes my affection for the Prelude. Feinberg gives a role-model performance which misses none of the nuances. His Fugue has an infectious swagger with the mood often quite eerie and ominous.

Overall, I find Feinberg's Book II even more rewarding than his Book I. The music has greater complexity and variety, and Feinberg revels in these qualities.

Don's Recommendation: Excepting for Tureck's masterful set, Feinberg would be a fine first choice for a piano version of the WTC. There are a few tracks where the sound is quite an obstacle to enjoyment, but the general quality of sound is more than passable. Fast tempos can be a little problematic for Feinberg, although I didn't notice much of that in Book II at all. In previous reviews of WTC sets, I highly recommended the piano versions from Gould and Gulda; Feinberg's is in this league and also is very different from those two. He's much more expansive and diverse; on the negative side, he does not convey the strong inevitability nor pin-point precision of either Gould or Gulda. Buyers on a limited budget could consider themselves excellently stocked if they had Tureck, Gould, Gulda, and Feinberg. Folks with more money to burn might also consider adding Aldwell, Fischer, Schiff, and Schepkin to their library.

 

Feedback to the Review

Brad Lehman wrote (July 2, 2001):
Donald Satz wrote about WTC 1:
< Prelude & Fugue in G sharp minor - In the Prelude, Japanese children are in the playground unaware of the horror that will strike the first time that an atom bomb is leveled at a human population. The music has a bitter/sweet nature. It is serene and delicate with a subtle cloud cover. In the Fugue, the immediate impacts of destruction have passed. Survivors can't believe what has been unleashed upon them; it's a new world without any foundation to hang on to. The music is bleak and closed. The fugue's subject in all four voices struggles to rise to the surface but is beaten down constantly. >
Umm...Don?

Is _that_ how Peter Sellars staged that one? You haven't been reading Wilfrid Mellers or the J Peterman clothing catalog by candlelight? That was normal sugar on your Wheaties this morning? Just checking.

But please, please, say you haven't turned to numerology as Bach exegesis. There's still hope. It's not too late. Turn back; turn baaaaaaack!

Anybody have handy the complete list of Alfred Cortot's characterizations of the Chopin preludes? I've read that he described #16 in Bb minor as follows: "After the introductory bar a pathetic cry of fear the chromatic chords of which fall one upon another, shuddering, the hallucinating vision of a breathless flight, pursued by a satanic will. It is the musical paraphrase, after Berlioz, of Goethe's lines: in the midst of a storm, the abyss into which Faust's restless destiny will precipitate him opens up before his horrified gaze. The right hand should suggest the heartless whistling of the gale, the sinister lament of the squalls, while the left hand suggeststhe frenzied gallop of the black steeds which carry the two symbolic figures crouched beneath the storm through the Romantic flashes of lightning." That's tantalizing, and I'd like a look at the rest of them.

1903 Cologne:
"Here is what Peterman told me. He was browsing in a Paris antique shop one winter. Saw a fitted leather train case containing silver-handled brushes, a razor, a boot hook, silver-stoppered bottles... One bottle was different. Encased in yew-wood with a handwritten date: 1903. A thickened liquid residue inside. The faint aroma, still, almost a hundred years later, of a rich man's custom-made cologne. The whole thing was shockingly expensive. But Peterman's curiosity was eating at him. He sent the bottle to a laboratory. Chromatographic analysis. The report said: an "old woody fougËre." Clean citrus notes, bergamot, "green notes." The middle notes were clary sage...cardamom. the dry down: leather notes, smoky labdanum...elemi, tabac, frankincense. Peterman was impressed by his detective work. I was impressed by the way the thing smelled on him...a symphony that begins loudly, then soon slides into subtle, entangling developments that grow on you. I like that very much. But then, I'm a woman. 1903 Vintage Cologne in wood-encased bottle. Price: $45. 3.5 fl. oz., 100 ml." http://www.jpeterman.com/product_pages/new_1903cologne.htm

What Marie Antoinette Wore to Bed:
"Marie-Antoinette is the one who said: 'if they don't have bread, let them eat cake.' She herself had cake...but wanted bread. People want what they haven't got. Especially when they have everything. She had everything. Her father was Emperor. Her husband was King. She was Queen. But Versailles suffocated her. She hated the acres of ormolu, miles of mirrors, armies of flatterers. She yearned for something else; she yearned for innocence. She almost got it; built another world for herself. Off in the woods, far from Versailles, she created a tiny hamlet of farms, cowsheds, private apartments with thatched roofs, dairies, vegetable gardens, a ballroom in the form of a barn; a little gleaming river, even a secluded meadow. Few were ever invited to see it. But it was a sensation. Overnight, the aristocracy would have given anything for the privilege of...milking a cow. Or any other favors. This simple nightshirt epitomizes Marie-Antoinette's dream of innocence. Innocent it is. No lace. No embroidery. No gewgaws. Pure Pima cotton (the best there is). Fresh, white, crisp, innocent. 4-button placket. Band collar. Shirttailhem. Sleep in it, walk along beaches in it, visit a secluded meadow in it. Marie-Antoinette Nightshirt (No. 1019). Price: $39. Sizes: S, M, L, XL." http://www.jpeterman.com/product_pages/new_marie.htm

 

Well Tempered Clavier Book I BWV 846-869: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
WTC I - D. Barenboim [D. Satz] | WTC I - D. Barenboim [P. Bright] | WTC I - T. Fellner | WTC I - E. Fischer | WTC I - M. Horszowski | WTC I - C. Jaccottet | WTC I - R. Kirkpatrick | WTC I - T. Koopman | WTC I - W. Landowska | WTC I - R. Levin | WTC I - O. Mustonen | WTC I - S. Richter | WTC I - S. Schepkin
Well Tempered Clavier Book II BWV 870-893: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9
WTC II - D. Barenboim [P. Bright] | WTC II - G. Cooper | WTC II - F. Gulda | WTC II - A. Hewitt | WTC II - R. Kirkpatrick | WTC II - J. Middleton
Well Tempered Clavier Books I&II BWV 846-893: WTC I&II - B.v. Asperen, S. Ross & G. Wilson | WTC I&II - E. Crochet | WTC I&II - O. Dantone | WTC I&II S. Feinberg | WTC II&II - T. Nikolayeva | WTC II&II - L. Thiry [N. Halliday] | WTC I&II - Z. Ruzickova

Samuel Feinberg: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Samuel Feinberg’s Well Tempered Clavier (3 Parts)

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Last update: ýOctober 31, 2006 ý22:12:51