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The Well-Tempered Clavier Book

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Performer: Luc Beauséjour
  • Composer: Bach J.S.
  • Audio CD (March 27 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B000MRP1SM
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,805 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Bach's monumental collection of Preludes and Fugues in all keys explored new systems of harpsichord tuning which made such an enterprise possible. Described as the pianist's Old Testament, complemented by the New Testament of Beethoven's Sonatas, the Prel

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Format: Audio CD
A clear and musical harpsichord performance of this amazing work. I have other recordings of this work on piano as well as on the harpsichord, and have heard organ renditions too. I would like to suggest that Luc Beausejour should record book 2 as well. If he does, I will want to hear it. He is such a thoughtful musician who also never fails to provide enjoyment.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Merveilleux, merci
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I April 28 2007
By Robin Friedman - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In 1717, Bach spent four weeks in prison as a result of what were deemed to be his over-zealous attempts to leave his employment with the Weimar court. Bach is said to have written Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier, at least in part, "in a place where ennui, boredom,, and the absence of any kind of musical instrument forced him to resort to this pastime." (Christoph Wolff, "Johann Sebastian Bach, The Learned Musician", page.184).

Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier was published in 1722 with a brief note by Bach describing the work as "The Well-Tempered Clavier, or preludes and fugues through all the tones and semitones, both as regards the tertia major or [Do] Re Me and as concerns the tertia minor or Re Me Fa. For the use and profit of the musical youth desirous of learning as well as for the pastime of those already skilled in this study." Many years later, between 1738 -- 1742, Bach published Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier. The 48 Preludes and Fugues have since their composition formed a backbone of the repertory for keyboard.

Book I consists of 24 preludes and fugues in each of the 12 major and minor keys using well-tempered tuning.The work begins in C major and C minor, followed by the major and minor keys in ascending half-steps. Thus, the final prelude and fugue are in the key of b minor. In this collection, Bach explores the full potential of keyboard music in expressiveness and technique. The preludes are improvisatory and free-style. The fugues are rigorous and learned and range from two voices to two fugues with five large voices. The mood of the work varies widely from severe and grand to song and dance and play. The preludes in fugues in each key generally are of contrasting character, allowing Bach to show the range of expressiveness of which each key was capable. The pieces cover the broadest range of time-signatures and rhythms. In an least one instance,, Prelude and Fugue no. 8, Bach used enharmonic notation. The Prelude is written in six flats (e-flat minor) while the cognate fugue is written in six sharps --- (d sharp minor) using the same keys on the instrument.

As a young boy in Bonn, Beethoven played and mastered this difficult music. Years ago in my own efforts at the piano, I attempted several of them. Although my experience playing the music is on the piano, I love to hear performances on the harpsichord. I spent many years with Wanda Landowska's reading on the Pleyel harpsichord which, with its clangor, bears little resemblance to the harpsichord of Bach's time. I thoroughly enjoyed ths new budget-priced release of Book I by Luc Beausejour. Beausejour is a Canadian harpsichordist and organist who has recorded the Goldberg Variations, Bach organ music, and Scarlatti, among much else. In this recording, he plays on a modern double-manual harpsichord built in 1985 with no specific historical model. It has a light, lyrical sound. The recording does not have the grandeur and sweep of Landowska's. The overall impression I got from the set was one of lightness even in the solemn pieces. The tone is generally one of lightness and flow, song and dance. I found it lovely, and it returned me to the music after an absence.

I followed the performance using my edition of Book I edited by Hans Bischoff. Beasejour does not appear to be playing from this text, and it would be interesting to know what edition he did use. The works that brought back my memories were, of course, the pieces I once tried to play, including the famous opening C major prelude with its spacious arpeggios and the following four part fugue based upon a scalar theme. I also rember playing the following c minor prelude with its succession of sixteenth-note figures and rapid close followed by a dance-like three part fugue. I enjoyed the vigoruous A-flat major prelude with its reflective and complex four-voice fugue. There is much to be savored in each pair of works in this collection.

As is apparent from the thougtful reviews that have already appeared for this CD, every listener has his or her own conception of this music and favorite performances. The low price and lovely playing make Beausejour's version a fine choice as an introduction to the work. Listeners with a great familiariy with the music will enjoy, as the reviews show, comparing it with other readings of this endlessly fascinating score.

Robin Friedman
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JS Bach's keyboard masterpiece (book 1) April 26 2007
By r.b. - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I think this is a wonderful recording of Bach's well tempered clavier book 1 by Luc Beausejour and I'm afraid I disagree with the other review here by Mr.Satz. So far my highest regard for a recorded performance of this masterpiece goes to Bob Van Asperen.Luc Beausejour's version is on a par with Asperen's.Some would call this a mainstream performance,i call it a SENSIBLE performance with no silly antics or over indulgent tempi, just a good,elegant interpretation that comes from the heart.

I agree the sound could have used a shade more bass and indeed the harpsichord itself is rather "thin" sounding (it's supposed to be a German style instrument constructed by Yves Beaupre but in fact it sounds nothing like the surviving harpsichords of MIETKE,HARRASS,ZELL,GRABNER and HASS)and i wished he had used a more substantial instrument,although it is pleasant sounding and not clangy on the ears.
Altogether it's the playing itself that makes this recording a solid,reliable and very praiseworthy effort indeed.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mainstream WTC Book I April 28 2007
By J Scott Morrison - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I'd just like to offer a brief response to the review of Don Satz whose opinions I respect and generally agree with. I'm puzzled by his saying the harpsichord sound is weak. I found it pleasant, not bass-shy and reasonably transparent. And best of all it's not clangy like so many such recordings. As for Beauséjour's interpretation I would agree with him that it is mainstream, albeit tending to be a little fast (or sprightly, if one prefers) without being extreme, and I see nothing wrong with that. Beauséjour does not indulge in the overdetermined agogics so favored by some. I suppose one might call that stodgy or plain vanilla. But it works in those pieces, such as the E flat minor prelude, that are so often pulled this way and that by agogic 'expression.' I call it sensitive musicianship that doesn't indulge in showboating. There may be a lack of the last little bit of brilliance in some of the major key pieces, such as the C sharp major or B flat major preludes. This is not perhaps the best set available but if one takes into consideration the price -- for lots of folks that's a factor in a two CD set -- this one gets a moderate recommendation, not a thumbs down as Satz appears to have given it.

Chacun à son goût, I guess.

Scott Morrison
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rather Ordinary Well Tempered Clavier April 24 2007
By Donald N. Satz - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Based on Luc Beausejour's other recordings of Baroque harpsichord music, I had high hopes for his new set of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Bk. 1. Unfortunately, Beausejour gives us an entirely mainstream reading except for relatively quick tempos that reduce the poignancy of Bach's music.

Other negative considerations are that Beausejour rarely varies tempo within each piece of music and treats the use of hesitations and staggering of musical lines as forbidden fruit. Worst of all, the harpsichord sound is thin with very weak bass response that dampens the dialogue among Bach's contrapuntal voices.

Alternatives? There are many harpsichord versions that easily surpass the Beausejour set: Gilbert, Leonhardt, van Asperen, Walcha, Ross, Wilson, Dantone, Verlet, Hantai, Jaccottet, Koopman, Landowska, Parmentier, Suzuki and Cooper. Also, let's not forget the host of piano versions that stand tall in the catalogs: Fellner, Schepkin, Crochet, Feinberg, Richter, Nikolayeva, Fischer, Horszowski, Hewitt, Gould, Gulda, Schiff, Tureck, Martins and Aldwell. Given this fierce competition, the Beausejour set never gets out of the starting gate.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Michael Ullman at FANFARE MAGAZINE Nov. 12 2012
By Thomas Martin - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"There's much to admire in Luc Beauséjour's new, inexpensive recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. The harpsichord sound is pleasing, the lively performances unaffected, with little to no tugging at tempos or arch pauses for effect. That makes this a straightforward, but not unimaginative rendition of works that Glenn Gould, to cite the inevitable, makes personal. In the brisk playing of the Prelude in D, for instance, we hear a delightfully cheery piece played with zest. Others might make more of the drama of the ensuing fugue, but Beauséjour seems to trust the music. He is willing to play powerfully; he also makes the preludes sing. And so on through the two discs. As I continued to listen, I found myself more and more convinced by the unaffected playing here. I think others, at least those who are not totally entranced by Gould, will enjoy these discs.

As for the competition, I am shocked to see how huge my stack of recordings of these works has become. Among recent recordings, I've most admired Schiff's, though I have also praised recordings by Levin and by Kenneth Gilbert in these pages. Earlier versions worth hearing include those by Edwin Fischer, Rosalyn Tureck, and Arthur Loesser. I am also surprised at how faded is the appeal of the Ralph Kirkpatrick recording that was my first". Michael Ullman