Johann Sebastian BACH:
48 PRELUDES & FUGUES -
the Well-Tempered Clavier Books I and II.

MALCOLM HAMILTON, Wittmayer harpsichord

BACH 711 - 714
Four compact discs available separately.
Disc 1, BACH 711: Preludes & Fugues 1 to 12;
Disc 2, BACH 712: Preludes & Fugues 13 to 24;
Disc 3, BACH 713: Preludes & Fugues 25 to 36;
Disc 4, BACH 714: Preludes & Fugues 37 to 48.

       

In 1691 the organist Andreas Werckmeister proposed the tuning system of equal temperament, dividing the octave into twelve equal intervals. This was to supersede once and for all the older tuning system, which was "in tune" for certain frequently-used scales only. Bach had himself always advocated equal temperament, and tuned his own keyboard instruments on this system. In 1722 he completed a collection of 24 preludes and fugues in all major and minor keys, which he called "The Well-tempered Clavier". He was to write another 24 some twenty years later, making the present total of 48.

Many of these 48 Preludes and Fugues go back to earlier versions, composed for example, for Anna Magdelina or Wilhelm Friedemann. Indeed work on the 48 spans almost the whole of Bach's working life. Certainly the 48 preludes and the 48 fugues go far beyond the mere illustration of well-tempered tuning, to become an almost complete study of the musical possibilities in keyboard preludes and fugues. It is little wonder that the fugues especially have formed the artistic basis for numerous counterpoint textbooks.

In this recording Malcolm Hamilton plays his two-manual harpsichord built in 1962 by Kurt Wittmayer of Wolfratshausen, Bavaria, pictured in our color presentations. It has two manuals: upper manual 8', 4'; lower manual 8', 16' with lute/buff stops on both lower registers. It is the firm contention both of performer and producer, for which we believe there is substantial historical evidence, that the instrument used in these recordings, with its strong 'Germanic' character, resembles far more closely that which Bach would have used, than the lighter, thinner sonorities of those currently dubbed as "authentic", and is particularly suitable to express the seriousness of purpose inherent in these works. Illustrated article: The Baroque German Harpsichord

Each prelude, each fugue is a complex structure with a wealth of detail; and it is the performer's object to take the listener slowly and quietly around each piece in this great exhibition, ensuring subtly but firmly that as much as possible of the fine detailing is transparently clear. These are strong, clear performances, taken at a measured pace, thematic entries and recitative passages clarified by the judicious use of terrace-dynamics. These are performances to teach, to demonstrate, to clarify, and above all, to enjoy. We know of none better.

On 4 CDs available separately.


* CLICK LINKS TO DOWNLOAD *

BACH 711 Book 1

BWV 846 Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major
BWV 847 Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C minor
BWV 848 Prelude and Fugue No. 3 in C-sharp major
BWV 849 Prelude and Fugue No. 4 in C-sharp minor
BWV 850 Prelude and Fugue No. 5 in D major
BWV 851 Prelude and Fugue No. 6 in D minor
BWV 852 Prelude and Fugue No. 7 in E-flat major
BWV 853 Prelude and Fugue No. 8 in E-flat minor
BWV 854 Prelude and Fugue No. 9 in E major
BWV 855 Prelude and Fugue No. 10 in E minor
BWV 856 Prelude and Fugue No. 11 in F major
BWV 857 Prelude and Fugue No. 12 in F minor

BACH 712 Book 1 continued

BWV 858 Prelude and Fugue No. 13 in F-sharp major
BWV 859 Prelude and Fugue No. 14 in F-sharp minor
BWV 860 Prelude and Fugue No. 15 in G major
BWV 861 Prelude and Fugue No. 16 in G minor
BWV 862 Prelude and Fugue No. 17 in A-flat major
BWV 863 Prelude and Fugue No. 18 in G-sharp minor
BWV 864 Prelude and Fugue No. 19 in A major
BWV 865 Prelude and Fugue No. 20 in A minor
BWV 866 Prelude and Fugue No. 21 in B-flat major
BWV 867 Prelude and Fugue No. 22 in B-flat minor
BWV 868 Prelude and Fugue No. 23 in B major
BWV 869 Prelude and Fugue No. 24 in B minor

BACH 713 Book 2

BWV 870 Prelude and Fugue No. 25 in C major
BWV 871 Prelude and Fugue No. 26 in C minor
BWV 872 Prelude and Fugue No. 27 in C-sharp major
BWV 873 Prelude and Fugue No. 28 in C-sharp minor
BWV 874 Prelude and Fugue No. 29 in D major
BWV 875 Prelude and Fugue No. 30 in D minor
BWV 876 Prelude and Fugue No. 31 in E-flat major
BWV 877 Prelude and Fugue No. 32 in D-sharp minor
BWV 878 Prelude and Fugue No. 33 in E major
BWV 879 Prelude and Fugue No. 34 in E minor
BWV 880 Prelude and Fugue No. 35 in F major
BWV 881 Prelude and Fugue No. 36 in F minor

BACH 714 Book 2 continued

BWV 882 Prelude and Fugue No. 37 in F-sharp major
BWV 883 Prelude and Fugue No. 38 in F-sharp minor
BWV 884 Prelude and Fugue No. 39 in G major
BWV 885 Prelude and Fugue No. 40 in G minor
BWV 886 Prelude and Fugue No. 41 in A-flat major
BWV 887 Prelude and Fugue No. 42 in G-sharp minor
BWV 888 Prelude and Fugue No. 43 in A major
BWV 889 Prelude and Fugue No. 44 in A minor
BWV 890 Prelude and Fugue No. 45 in B-flat major
BWV 891 Prelude and Fugue No. 46 in B-flat minor
BWV 892 Prelude and Fugue No. 47 in B major
BWV 893 Prelude and Fugue No. 48 in B minor

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