John Butt - Bach WTC - AllMusic
The majority of modern recordings of J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier are of piano performances, and the few harpsichord versions that come along often attract notice because of their relative scarcity. John Butt's set on Linn warrants attention, not only for being a rarity, but more importantly for the extraordinary quality of his interpretations. An authority on Bach, Butt has written several books on the composer and distinguished himself as an expert on German Baroque music, both as a harpsichordist and conductor. Yet for all of his credentials, his playing of the WTC is far from pedantic or dry. His clear counterpoint, flexible rhythms, brisk tempos, lively ornamentation, and fluid phrasing make the 48 preludes and fugues fully musical and expressive, and at no point does the performance become dry or mechanical. Essential to this set's success is the distinctive character of each piece, which keeps the listener alert to the variety of styles and expressions possible in this compendium of the keyboard art. Butt plays a modern copy of a German harpsichord, and the sound is full and vibrant in the stereo recording, made at St. Martin's, East Woodhay, Hampshire, UK in 2013. Highly recommended.