John Butt - Bach WTC - The Guardian

John Butt has such a fine pedigree of scrupulously prepared and immaculately performed recordings of baroque and classical choral works with the Dunedin Consort for Linn that his first recording for the label as a solo instrumentalist was always going to be immensely interesting. For his account of Bach's 48 preludes and fugues, Butt plays a modern copy of a German harpsichord from the beginning of the 18th century. It's an instrument with a big, muscular sound - though not, on this evidence, one with an enormous tonal range - and Butt makes clear in his sleeve notes that his performances have taken account of the latest research into the way in which Bach put together the collection, and how and at what tempi he might have expected them to be performed. Certainly there are plenty of surprises along the way, especially in Butt's treatment of the preludes, some of which seem gruff, almost peremptory, and in the rhythmic liberties he takes.

27 November 2014