Johann Sebastian Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier

András Schiff

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As a young pianist, András Schiff earned wide esteem for his 1980s recordings of the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach; in recent years, as part of his long-term relationship with ECM, he has gone back to Bach as a sage veteran, earning more acclaim for his New Series recordings of the Goldberg Variations (2001) and the six Partitas (2007). The New York Times said, “Mr. Schiff is, in Bach, a phenomenon. He doesn’t so much perform it as emit, breathe it.” In August 2011, Schiff turned his focus to the 48 preludes and fugues of The Well-Tempered Clavier, making studio recordings of both books in the Auditorium Radiosvizzera Italiana, Lugano. An iconic inspiration for composers from Mozart and Beethoven to Chopin and Brahms and beyond, The Well-Tempered Clavier has long been considered the Old Testament of the keyboard literature (with Beethoven’s piano sonatas as the New Testament). In his liner notes to this four-CD set, Paul Griffiths underscores the suitability of Bach’s timeless keyboard work for the modern piano: “Bach’s inquiry into so many nuances, of touch, of interplay between hands and between contrapuntal lines, of character and of expressivity, has helped form keyboard technique as we know it, and his music belongs to the instrument of Beethoven, of Chopin, of Debussy, of Kurtág – especially when that instrument is played with the mastery and sensitivity of Schiff in these performances (…) Noteworthy is his floated melody and his rhythmic sense – his realization that so much of Bach’s music is song or dance. Grandeur and intimacy are also here. Wit, too.”

Als junger Pianist erlangte András Schiff in den 1980er Jahren allenthalben große Wertschätzung für seine Einspielungen der großen Werke von J.S. Bach für Tasteninstrumente; in der jüngsten Vergangenheit hat er sich, im Zuge seiner langjährigen Verbindung zu ECM und nun als weiser Veteran, erneut Bach zugewandt und erntete dabei für seine Einspielungen der Goldberg Variationen (2001) und der sechs Partiten (2007) erneut großen Beifall. Die New York Times schrieb: “Mr. Schiff ist ein Phänomen in Sachen Bach. Er trägt ihn nicht nur vor, vielmehr strömt und atmet er ihn geradezu aus.” Im August 2011 richtete András Schiff sein Augenmerk auf die 48 Präludien und Fugen des “Wohltemperierten Claviers“, für eine Studioaufnahme beider Bücher im Auditorium Radiosvizzera Italiana, Lugano. Eine Inspirationsquelle für Komponisten von Mozart und Beethoven bis hin zu Chopin, Brahms und darüber hinaus, gilt “Das Wohltemperierte Clavier” seit langem als das Alte Testament in der Literatur für Tasteninstrumente (wobei Beethovens Klaviersonaten entsprechend als das Neue Testament gesehen werden können). In seinen Liner Notes zum vorliegenden 4-CD-Set, unterstreicht Paul Griffiths die Eignung von Bachs zeitlosem Werk für Tasteninstrumente auch für moderne Flügel: “Bachs Erkundung so vieler Nuancen, des Anschlags, des Zusammenspiels der Hände und kontrapunktischen Linien, des Charakters und der Expressivität, hat dazu beigetragen die Spieltechniken für Tasteninstrumente, wie wir sie heute kennen, herauszubilden. Und seine Musik gehört auch zum Instrument eines Beethoven, eines Chopin, eines Debussy, eines Kurtág – vor allem, wenn das Instrument mit solcher Meisterschaft und Empfindsamkeit gespielt wird wie von Schiff in diesen Aufnahmen (...) Besondere Erwähnung verdient das Schweben seiner Melodien und sein rhythmisches Gespür – seine Erkenntnis, dass so vieles in Bachs Musik Lied- oder Tanz-Charakter hat. Erhabenheit und Intimität finden sich hier ebenso. Und auch Witz.”
Featured Artists Recorded

August 2011, Auditorio RSI - Radio Svizzera, Lugano

  • CD 1
  • Das Wohltemperierte Clavier - Buch I, BWV 846-869
    (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • 1Praeludium C-Dur01:48
  • 2Fuge C-Dur01:54
  • 3Praeludium c-Moll02:19
  • 4Fuge c-Moll04:00
  • 5Praeludium Cis-Dur01:34
  • 6Fuge Cis-Dur01:35
  • 7Praeludium cis-Moll01:21
  • 8Fuge cis-Moll02:24
  • 9Praeludium D-Dur01:15
  • 10Fuge D-Dur01:41
  • 11Praeludium d-Moll02:09
  • 12Fuge d-Moll01:31
  • 13Praeludium Es-Dur01:18
  • 14Fuge Es-Dur01:03
  • 15Praeludium es-Moll02:15
  • 16Fuge es/dis-Moll02:23
  • 17Praeludium E-Dur03:43
  • 18Fuge E-Dur04:33
  • 19Praeludium e-Moll03:25
  • 20Fuge e-Moll01:05
  • 21Praeludium F-Dur00:56
  • 22Fuge F-Dur01:18
  • 23Praeludium f-Moll01:59
  • 24Fuge f-Moll04:17
  • CD 2
  • 1Praeludium Fis-Dur01:33
  • 2Fuge Fis-Dur01:58
  • 3Praeludium fis-Moll00:54
  • 4Fuge fis-Moll02:59
  • 5Praeludium G-Dur00:50
  • 6Fuge G-Dur02:53
  • 7Praeludium g-Moll02:03
  • 8Fuge g-Moll01:28
  • 9Praeludium As-Dur01:14
  • 10Fuge As-Dur02:16
  • 11Praeludium gis-Moll01:31
  • 12Fuge gis-Moll02:10
  • 13Praeludium A-Dur01:13
  • 14Fuge A-Dur02:18
  • 15Praeludium a-Moll00:56
  • 16Fuge a-Moll04:03
  • 17Praeludium B-Dur01:14
  • 18Fuge B-Dur01:38
  • 19Praeludium b-Moll02:34
  • 20Fuge b-Moll02:51
  • 21Praeludium H-Dur00:56
  • 22Fuge H-Dur02:18
  • 23Praeludium h-Moll04:35
  • 24Fuge h-Moll06:49
  • CD 3
  • Das Wohltemperierte Clavier - Buch II, BWV 870-893
    (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  • 1Praeludium C-Dur02:28
  • 2Fuge C-Dur01:32
  • 3Praeludium c-Moll03:41
  • 4Fuge c-Moll02:15
  • 5Praeludium Cis-Dur02:34
  • 6Fuge Cis-Dur02:09
  • 7Praeludium cis-Moll01:52
  • 8Fuge cis-Moll02:02
  • 9Praeludium D-Dur04:55
  • 10Fuge D-Dur02:58
  • 11Praeludium d-Moll01:34
  • 12Fuge d-Moll01:42
  • 13Praeludium Es-Dur04:19
  • 14Fuge Es-Dur02:39
  • 15Praeludium dis-Moll03:09
  • 16Fuge dis-Moll02:10
  • 17Praeludium E-Dur02:29
  • 18Fuge E-Dur03:40
  • 19Praeludium e-Moll03:42
  • 20Fuge e-Moll03:06
  • 21Praeludium F-Dur03:18
  • 22Fuge F-Dur01:45
  • 23Praeludium f-Moll04:08
  • 24Fuge f-Moll01:46
  • CD 4
  • 1Praeludium Fis-Dur02:57
  • 2Fuge Fis-Dur02:17
  • 3Praeludium fis-Moll03:03
  • 4Fuge fis-Moll04:16
  • 5Praeludium G-Dur02:22
  • 6Fuge G-Dur01:21
  • 7Praeludium g-Moll02:39
  • 8Fuge g-Moll02:47
  • 9Praeludium As-Dur03:19
  • 10Fuge As-Dur02:27
  • 11Praeludium gis-Moll03:46
  • 12Fuge gis-Moll05:33
  • 13Praeludium A-Dur01:40
  • 14Fuge A-Dur01:09
  • 15Praeludium a-Moll05:40
  • 16Fuge a-Moll01:43
  • 17Praeludium B-Dur07:19
  • 18Fuge B-Dur02:08
  • 19Praeludium b-Moll02:39
  • 20Fuge b-Moll04:37
  • 21Praeludium H-Dur01:57
  • 22Fuge H-Dur03:23
  • 23Praeludium h-Moll01:51
  • 24Fuge h-Moll01:41
Playing with crystalline clarity and a rhythmic buoyancy that highlights the works´dance elements, Mr. Schiff reveals the contrapuntal brilliance and the joy, wit and melancholy of these 24 preludes and fugues.
 
Zachary Woolfe, New York Times
 
Übersetzung des Kosmos in Klang. Der Pianist András Schiff nimmt es zum zweiten Mal mit Johann Sebastian Bachs „Wohltemperirtem Klavier“ auf und übertrifft sich selbst. (…)
Bei Schiff finden sich keine „spektakulären“ Tempi, keine „interessant“ vom Standard abweichenden Lesarten. Sein Spiel ist leuchtend schlank und flüssig antiromantisch. Schiff, streng das Pedal meidend, schafft einen stets durchhörbaren Klang, der nichts unterschlägt und der von der führenden Oberstimme abwärts die einzelnen Stimmen dynamisch nach unten staffelt. Ein Asket mit Spielfreude ist da am Werk.
 
Reinhard J. Brembeck, Süddeutsche Zeitung
 
As a young pianist, András Schiff earned wide esteem for his 1980s recordings of the major keyboard works of J.S. Bach; in recent years, as part of his long-term relationship with ECM, he has gone back to Bach as a sage veteran, earning even more acclaim for his New Series versions of the Goldberg Variations (2001) and the six Partitas (2007), both intimate concert recordings. In August 2011, Schiff turned his focus to the 48 preludes and fugues of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, recording both Books I and II in the Auditorium Radiosvizzera Italiana, Lugano. The performance of these influential works sets new interpretive standards. For the recording, Schiff’s own Steinway was brought to Lugano, and the production beautifully captures a masterful player and his instrument of choice.
An iconic inspiration for composers from Mozart and Beethoven to Chopin and Brahms and beyond, The Well-Tempered Clavier has long been considered the Old Testament of the keyboard literature (with Beethoven’s piano sonatas as the New Testament). In his liner notes to Schiff’s new four-CD set of “the 48”, Paul Griffiths underscores the suitability of Bach’s timeless keyboard work for the modern grand piano: “Bach’s inquiry into so many nuances, of touch, of interplay between hands and between contrapuntal lines, of character and of expressivity, has helped form keyboard technique as we know it, and his music belongs to the instrument of Beethoven, of Chopin, of Debussy, of Kurtág – especially when that instrument is played with the mastery and sensitivity of Schiff in these performances. (...) Noteworthy is his floated melody and his rhythmic sense – his realization that so much of Bach’s music is song or dance. Grandeur and intimacy are also here. Wit, too.”
In the liner-note introduction to his ECM release of Bach’s Partitas, Schiff laid out his motivation for revisiting music he first recorded two decades before: “Great music is far greater than its performers. We try our entire lives to unveil its secrets and to convey its unique message. Even if we never quite reach the imaginary goal, our many performances give us experience and knowledge that were hidden from us years ago. We form a better understanding of its structure and inner workings. Horizons broaden before our eyes.”
Schiff will explore those broadened horizons in his “Bach Project,” which includes performances of Bach’s music across North America from October 2012 to November 2013. The tour begins with The Well-Tempered Clavier and will go on to include the French Suites, English Suites, Partitas and Goldberg Variations, as well as keyboard concertos with the San Francisco Symphony and New York Philharmonic. Schiff announced his “Bach Project” by joining author Stuart Isacoff (Temperament and A Natural History of the Piano) at Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse in New York City to discuss Bach in front of an audience. The discussion led to a question about what Schiff heard in his early Bach discs that he strove to improve upon in his ECM recordings. “There were touches of sentimentality that I didn’t consider sentimental at the time – and I don’t like sentimentality,” he said. “Perhaps you become more secure with age – you don’t feel the need to impress. You know this is a great piece of music that can speak for itself.”
YEAR DATE VENUE LOCATION
2024 March 01 Philharmonie Paris, France
2024 March 03 Wigmore Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 March 05 Wigmore Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 March 11 Konzerthaus Vienna, Austria
2024 March 13 Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Germany
2024 March 17 Isarphilharmonie Munich, Germany
2024 March 20 Gran Teatro La Fenice - Sale Apollinee Venice, Italy
2024 March 21 Gran Teatro La Fenice - Sale Apollinee Venice, Italy
2024 April 04 Kimmel Center for Performing Arts Philadelphia PA, United States
2024 April 05 Kimmel Center for Performing Arts Philadelphia PA, United States
2024 April 06 Kimmel Center for Performing Arts Philadelphia PA, United States
2024 April 18 The Anvil Basingstoke, United Kingdom
2024 April 19 The Sage Gateshead, United Kingdom
2024 April 20 Saffron Hall Saffron Waldon, United Kingdom
2024 April 21 Snape Maltings Concert Hall Aldeburgh, United Kingdom
2024 April 24 Queen Elizabeth Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 April 25 Queen Elizabeth Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 April 26 Queen Elizabeth Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 May 02 Teatro Olimpico Vicenza, Italy
2024 May 03 Basilica de Ss. Felice e Fortunatus Vicenza, Italy
2024 May 04 Teatro Olimpico Vicenza, Italy
2024 May 05 Teatro Olimpico Vicenza, Italy
2024 May 06 Teatro Olimpico Vicenza, Italy
2024 May 07 Teatro Manzoni Bologna, Italy
2024 May 11 Casals Forum Kronberg, Germany
2024 May 15 Casals Forum Kronberg, Germany
2024 May 18 Casals Forum Kronberg, Germany
2024 May 20 Haus für Mozart Salzburg, Austria
2024 May 26 Schloss Esterházy Eisenstadt, Austria
2024 May 28 Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Germany
2024 May 30 Teatro Donizetti Bergamo, Italy
2024 June 01 Teatro Communale Ferrara, Italy
2024 June 06 Wigmore Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 June 08 Wigmore Hall London, United Kingdom
2024 June 11 Musikverein Vienna, Austria
2024 June 26 Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Germany
2024 June 30 Château du Clos de Vougeot Burgund, France
2024 July 04 Palacio Carlos V Granada, Spain
2024 July 11 Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Germany
2024 July 16 Pfarrkirche Lockenhaus, Austria
2024 July 23 Église de Verbier station Verbier, Switzerland
2024 July 25 Église de Verbier station Verbier, Switzerland
2024 July 27 Menuhin Festival- Kirche Saanen Gstaad, Switzerland