Bach's music of course is beyond reproach. The performance is harder to assess since the recording obscures it. The clavichord is a very difficult instrument to capture, and far too many classical recording engineers are into "realism". From a distance of ten yards, a clavichord is inaudible. The clavichord is the baroque era's iPod, it's truly a solo instrument. The chauvinists of authenticity do it a disservice by trying to faithfully render what a listener might strain to hear from several yards away. Some go so far as to master the CD at low volume, in the noise floor, or include the ambience of flies and passing cars, and in the liner notes some even browbeat the listener into turning down the volume! Heck, they should record the 9th symphony the way Beethoven heard it.
Anyone who has played a clavichord has experienced that subtle timbre and searched for it on recordings in vain. A good sound engineer knows that the best recordings have nothing to do with "reality". The only useful way to record this instrument is the way THE PLAYER hears it, by very close mic'ing. The Secret Bach is a worthwhile CD, but it is sad that, like most "period instrument" projects, in the misguided pursuit of "authenticity" it fails to take full advantage of this most expressive and personal of keyboard instruments, leaving most people to [continue to] wonder why Bach incomprehensibly preferred it to the piano. Well, folks, it's because this is not what a clavichord sounds or feels like. This review is not an abstract rant. I speak from experience, I own a large unfretted clavichord such as Bach's Silbermanns, I play it, I have tried different ways to record it. The wonderful timbre one hears while seated at the instrument has no relation to what microphones feebly pick up in the room. The clavichord was never used in concert, nor was it designed to be. Please try listening to same snippets of Keith Jarret's Book of Ways, which is in my opinion the most effective recording of clavichord on the market, in which its complex timbre stands out, somewhere between a guitar, a lute, a harpsichord, and you too will wonder why it is so seldom heard. That said, this can be an enjoyable CD if the murky sound does not bother you (which you can determine by listening to samples). The music is of course worth hearing in any context, and with that caveat, the CD is worth getting.