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Secret Bach

5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 17.93
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Fantaisie chrom. & Fugue, BWV903a - Adagio, BWV968 - Fugue sol min. (d'ap. BWV100) - Allemande, BWV836 - Menuets BWV841 & 843 - Partite diverse sur choral "O Gott, du frommer Gott", BWV767 - Partita la min. (d'ap. BWV1004) / Christopher Hogwood, clavicorde

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bach's Favourite Instrument June 21 2004
Format:Audio CD
It is said that even above the pipe organ, the instrument to which he is most strongly and historically bound, J. S. preferred the clavichord. Two more disimilar keyboard instruments could not exist. The clavichord is a chamber instrument, to be played and heard within confined, intimate spaces. The organ, again, is capable of filling a cathedral with crashing, oceanic waves of sound. Listen, then, if you will to The Secret Bach, the Bach of fine-tuned sensitivity, of nuance and tranquility, but no less power and passion. Christopher Hogwood studied with Puyana and Leonhardt, two polarised performers to my mind, and came away from this education bearing an exceptional technicality and a refined interpretation. If you have at least 71:54 minutes of free time, a working CD player, and the inclination, why not turn down the lights, pour yourself a glass of whatever, and treat yourself to an inside glimpse at the elusive, vibrant, multifacetted and ever-surprising (still, after so many centuries) splendid supergenius of J. S. Bach.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bach's Favourite Instrument June 21 2004
By Polkadotty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It is said that even above the pipe organ, the instrument to which he is most strongly and historically bound, J. S. preferred the clavichord. Two more disimilar keyboard instruments could not exist. The clavichord is a chamber instrument, to be played and heard within confined, intimate spaces. The organ, again, is capable of filling a cathedral with crashing, oceanic waves of sound. Listen, then, if you will to The Secret Bach, the Bach of fine-tuned sensitivity, of nuance and tranquility, but no less power and passion. Christopher Hogwood studied with Puyana and Leonhardt, two polarised performers to my mind, and came away from this education bearing an exceptional technicality and a refined interpretation. If you have at least 71:54 minutes of free time, a working CD player, and the inclination, why not turn down the lights, pour yourself a glass of whatever, and treat yourself to an inside glimpse at the elusive, vibrant, multifacetted and ever-surprising (still, after so many centuries) splendid supergenius of J. S. Bach.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recording could be better March 12 2008
By Fernand Ray - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Mr Hogwood ! March 29 2014
By Roger Albert Carr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Once again . . . . an inability to successfully record the clavicord.
Sorry Mr Hogwood . . . not your fault. Quite disappointing.
As a previous reviewer pointed out, the best recording of this instrument in Keith Jarrett's "Book of Ways".
4.0 out of 5 stars Great music and excellent playing, but... Aug. 9 2012
By Sid Nuncius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is a disc of what are thought to be versions of Bach's works which were for his own private performance on the clavichord. Christopher Hogwood cites Forkel writing 50 years after Bach's death, saying that Bach loved to play in private on the clavichord above all other instruments and presents these works as an illustration of some more private aspects of Bach's music and character, like his role as a teacher to his sons. It is a convincing and very interesting notion which Hogwood brings off excellently.

The music, of course is sublime, with some quite subtle but interesting differences from the versions we may be used to. Hogwood is a fantastic musician and plays it all wonderfully. However - and this is almost certainly a personal thing - I find the sound of the clavichord somehow rather unsatisfying. It is a small, quiet domestic instrument and it just seems to me to be straining to be heard all the time - fine for practice and personal use but not really for shared performance. This means that for me this isn't a wholly successful disc. It is interesting throughout and charming in places but as a satisfying musical experience it falls a little short.

You may well not share my reservations about the clavichord so please don't let me put you off. This is a disc of superb music, excellently performed. It just didn't quite fit my personal taste.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bach on Clavichord March 16 2011
By Mr. Paul H. Reinert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Great addition for any Bach collection. Well recorded, 70+ minutes on a instrument you rarely hear which Bach used. Get it.
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