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Well Tempered Clavier Book II BWV 870-893

Friedrich Gulda (Piano)

Gulda’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book II

K-6

Bach: The Well-tempered Clavier Bk 2

 

Preludes & Fugues BWV 870-893

Friedrich Gulda (Piano)

Philips (from MPS) / RussianDVD

May 1973

2-CD / TT: 152:13

Recorded at MPS-Tonstudio, Villingen, Germany
Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.com [CD-1] | Amazon.com [CD-2]

Gulda’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book II - Part 1

Donald Satz wrote (December 9, 1999):
I'm not on a Bach binge any longer, but there's one version I've had a hankering for which I had not acquired - Friedrich Gulda's set recorded in 1973 by Philips. I've never heard any Gulda performances, but I was aware of the differing opinions about him. So, I picked up his book ll; I have more Book 1's than 2's in the house.

After listening a few times, I don't know what all the fuss is about. With very few exceptions, Gulda is within the range of what I'd consider "normal" performances. In fact, I was mighty impressed with his interpretations. There are two pieces which he plays in a perverted fashion; the opening prelude in C is too fast with insufficient lyricism (slegehammer effect) whereas Schiff on Decca gets it just right. Also, the prelude in F is performed with the speed of light which ruins it for me. That's it for the bad news.

What most impresses me about the set is Gulda's fine sense of momentum. So many pianists insist on applying little hesitations where forward momentum gets lost. Not Gulda. He keeps plugging along, ever mindful of the importance of propulsion. This momentum/propulsion aspect is best shown in the fugue in C, fugue in C sharp minor, fugue in G minor, and prelude in B. But Gulda does not give short-shrift to the more lyrical pieces either. While making notes as I listened, I often wrote down words such as "lyrical, poetic, soft-spoken, great part-playing and legato".

Since the recording was made in 1973, don't expect top-flight sound. There is some noticeable hiss, but the overall sound is okay. It can handle headphones as well, unlike Richter's WTC on Russian Revelation.

Summing up, I'm glad I have the Gulda recording and will definitely be buying Book 1. This is not at the top of my preferred versions; I would take Hewitt, Gould, and Aldwell first. But, it's a fine set with many illuminating features. At Philips Duo prices, it's a good deal.

Don's Conclusion - Worth Purchasing.

 

Gulda’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book II - Part 2

Donald Satz wrote (December 12, 1999):
I had reported very favorably on Gulda's WTC 2nd Book and indicated I'd be buying Book l. I'm now enjoying Book 1 even more than Book 2. I think Gulda shows a little more variety of pacing and mood in Book 1.

Although Gulda continues his command of momentum, there is a particular prelude (in c minor) where he gives us the slowest pacing I've ever heard. This prelude is usually done with great speed which tends to enhance its demonic qualities. Gulda's perverse pace might lead one to assume that he turns this thrilling prelude to mush. Being a superb pianist and interpreter, he does no such thing. Instead, his emphasis on the bass line is rock solid and you can almost feel those demons flowing through your blood stream. One sure sign of a great performing artist is the ability to turn a work on its head and come out the other side with something as good or better than the original. Richter easily comes to mind in this regard, and Gulda, at least in Bach, has this ability.

You can pick up both Books at mid-price and know that you're getting some very fine distinctive Bach.

 

Feedback to the Review

Richard Pennycuick wrote (December 10, 1999):
Don Satz's review reminded me of some LP’s I have from years ago which show Gulda is also a fine jazz pianist, rather in the Horace Silver mould, and an interesting jazz composer. I also have a strange CD which Philips released on their classical label in the early days of CD: it's neither jazz nor CM, but a sort of hybrid. Is anyone else familiar with it?

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

Friedrich Gulda: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Gulda’s Well-Tempered Clavier Book II (2 Parts)

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Last update: ýSeptember 27, 2006 ý09:53:51