Related Reviews
Classical.net
'Butt's performance is magisterial...'
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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.’
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Limelight
5 Stars
Editor's Choice: 'The basics of familiar gesture are utterly unexpected but also feel instinctively right.'
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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.'
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MusicWeb International
'I am in awe of Butt's keyboard prowess.'
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All About Jazz
'Butt's playing is reverent, precise and accurate.'
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BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
'[John Butt's] account of Bach's 48 preludes and fugues is illuminating and thought provoking.'
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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.'
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Gramophone
'Butt offers plenty of food for thought, along with his own extensive annotations discussing both the music and issues of performance practice.'
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CD Choice
'John Butt makes the best case for this music on a harpsichord.'
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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.'
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Taipei Times
'...supreme incisiveness and clarity...'
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The Herald Scotland
'...there is brawn, wit and chutzpah behind pretty much everything [Butt] does.'
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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.'
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The Guardian
'assertive and muscular'
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The Scotsman
4 Stars
‘Butt’s infectious interpretations are as dazzling as they are intellectually challenging…a box of heavenly delights.’
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John Butt - Bach WTC - McAlister Matheson Music


17 November 2014
McAlister Matheson Music

This is John Butt's first solo harpsichord recording for many years. Just as Angela Hewitt's recording of The Art of Fugue drew on her experience of playing all Bach's keyboard music, so Butt makes full use of his extensive academic and performing knowledge of Bach's choral, orchestral and instrumental works.

His very readable booklet essay demonstrates the breadth of his research, covering the ‘why' and ‘how' of the two Books' composition, setting them in the context of Bach's time, and discussing the variety and make-up of the preludes and fugues and his own approach to performing them.

Butt plays on the Dunedin Consort's copy of an early 1700s German harpsichord, an instrument that has a rich but soft-edged tone that is easy on the ear. Butt's performances are naturally light and lively, sometimes almost improvisatory in nature. In his hands, Book I's C major prelude and fugue display a French influence, and his flourishes in the D major fugue are spectacular, coming after a wonderfully fleet prelude.

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!


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