Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


The Well-tempered Clavier, Book two.
Diana Boyle (piano).
Metier MSVCD2002. Two CDs.


A lot of controversy surrounds the playing of Bach. There are some who venomously deplore a piano being used to play his works. And, of course,Glen Gould's performances caused an outrage many years ago.

But the real problem is that Bach seldom used tempo directions or tonal instructions and so it is left to the performer to calculate tempi and tone. And there is that appalling and infuriating style of slowing down at the end of each piece with a grinding rallentando as if one is doing an emergency stop in the car.

Students of Bach know that this is merely affectation. That inherent in his music itself are his crescendos and rallentandos and the like. If Bach wants the music to appear to be quickening he will introduce semiquavers or the equivalent and if he wants to slow down he will revert to quavers or crotchets but that does not mean a rallentando as well.

Some keyboard players try to play Bach in a romantic way with lingerings and rubato and, quite frankly, it does not work. Occasionally, Ms Boyle does this and, I fear, she also belongs to the slowing down at the end brigade. A great pity because there is so much to enjoy in her playing. It is wonderfully clear, bringing out Bach's counterpoint to perfection and this recording is a must for those who want to study these works from the academic point of view of Bach's counterpoint. Ms Boyle has very strong finger work so that some of the fugue subjects come out with a hint of a sore thumb technique. Personally I think this works but the Purists may not.

She also has a marvellous way to make some of the music very robust and does not play Bach in that wishy washy, pastel and affected way. For this and many other qualities she is to be commended.

I value these recordings but more for teaching purposes than anything else. The recording is clean and sharp and also commendable.

David Wnght



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