Related Reviews
Classical.net
'Butt's performance is magisterial...'
more >>
International Record Review
IRR Outstanding: ‘John Butt's Olympian traversal is destined to be remembered…as a significant and enduring musical landmark. Be under no illusions – this is a colossal and revelatory feat, and a major addition both to the current Bach discography and to contemporary performance scholarship.’
more >>
Limelight
5 Stars
Editor's Choice: 'The basics of familiar gesture are utterly unexpected but also feel instinctively right.'
more >>
Early Music Review
'The overall effect is exhilarating and Butt's formidable technique means that one is made very aware of the keyboard virtuosity for which Bach was known, just as much as for the compositional complexity of the fugues.'
more >>
MusicWeb International
'I am in awe of Butt's keyboard prowess.'
more >>
All About Jazz
'Butt's playing is reverent, precise and accurate.'
more >>
Klassiekezaken
'Een heel spannende uitvoering dus, gespeeld op een fraai instrument en ook nog eens schitterend opgenomen.' / 'A very exciting performance therefore, played on a beautiful instrument and another included magnificent.'
more >>
Gramophone
'Butt offers plenty of food for thought, along with his own extensive annotations discussing both the music and issues of performance practice.'
more >>
CD Choice
'John Butt makes the best case for this music on a harpsichord.'
more >>
The Times
4 Stars
'John Butt has the scholarly credentials to rethink how the 48 preludes and fugues should be performed, and the nimble fingers to translate his theories into impeccable clear readings on the harpsichord.'
more >>
Taipei Times
'...supreme incisiveness and clarity...'
more >>
The Herald Scotland
'...there is brawn, wit and chutzpah behind pretty much everything [Butt] does.'
more >>
AllMusic
5 Stars
'Editor's Choice': 'John Butt's set on Linn warrants attention, not only for being a rarity, but more importantly for the extraordinary quality of his interpretations...Highly recommended.'
more >>
The Guardian
'assertive and muscular'
more >>
McAlister Matheson Music
'I gained especial pleasure from Book II which came alive under Butt’s fingers, musically varied and not in the least dry or academic. Recommended!'
more >>
The Scotsman
4 Stars
‘Butt’s infectious interpretations are as dazzling as they are intellectually challenging…a box of heavenly delights.’
more >>

John Butt - Bach WTC - BBC Music Magazine


01 January 2015
BBC Music Magazine
Anthony Pryer
4 Stars

John Butt's credentials as a director and performer of early music are not in doubt and, as we might expect, his account of Bach's 48 preludes and fugues is illuminating and thought provoking. He plays on a copy of a harpsichord by Michael Mietke (d.1719) - who provided at least one harpsichord for Bach - and he has chosen his editions carefully (by Richard Jones for Book I, and Yo Tomita for Book II) so we get authoritative sounds and texts. Also, his perspectives on pacing and relative speeds between the preludes and their attendant fugues are carefully considered and executed.

He is particularly good in the fugues - the long A minor piece from Book I is wonderfully controlled (the long pedal point at the end suggests it may originally have been for organ), and the Book I G major comes with some amazing flourishes.

The preludes also hold their delights - the interlacing lines in the A flat from Book II are excellently lucid, for instance - but in general are more problematic, not just for John Butt, but for everyone. The brilliant G major prelude from Book I has speed and flair, though not quite the deft lightness of Robert Levin's harpsichord version on the Haussler label. Others that suggest slower or more delicate natures perhaps suffer a little, particularly those that might have French connections - for example, from Book II, the intricately ornamented C sharp minor prelude, and the F major prelude, which seems to suggest an affinity with the tradition of 'unmeasured' preludes.


Bookmark and Share


Related Links

John ButtJohn Butt
J.S. Bach: Das wohltemperierte KlavierJ.S. Bach: Das wohltemperierte Klavier