Besides numerous discs with choral and instrumental works with his ensemble Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki is currently recording a complete series of Bach’s works for solo harpsichord. Releases so far include acclaimed interpretations of the Italian Concerto, the French Suites, the Partitas and the Goldberg Variations. The series began in 1997, with Book I of Das Wohltemperiertes Klavier – a release which was recommended by Spanish magazine CD Compact, as well as receiving three stars in the Penguin Guide. Reviewers were enthusiastic, for instance in Gramophone (‘a Bach player of distinction… He has great vitality and constantly conveys a strongly rhythmic sense of momentum – a thoroughly rewarding set’) and in American Record Guide (‘I devoured this recording when it arrived, and I was left with the feeling I'd made a new friend... a set that will hold pride of place over many others’). Suzuki now picks up the thread with Bach’s second set of 24 preludes and fugues, a key-work in Western music and a cornerstone in the repertoire for both piano and harpsichord. Like its predecessor, Book 2 traverses all the keys of the harmonic system, exploring each tonality during the span of one prelude and one fugue. In his informed liner notes, Bach specialist Professor Yo Tomita discusses various aspects of the collection. These include the interesting connections between individual movements and other works by Bach, such as the similarities between the prelude in B flat minor and the recitative from the St Matthew Passion containing Jesus’ cry ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me’. But as the liner notes point out, the movements in the Well-Tempered Clavier II are ‘not copies; rather they take the form of treasured ideas reworked as new and unique keyboard compositions’, by a master who in his late fifties had had more, and greater, ideas than most composers.
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