Sunday afternoon I heard pianist András Schiff play all of Book II of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier to a nearly full house at Davies Hall. The seriously disciplined Mr. Schiff performed from memory in 2 halves lasting more than an hour each. His focus was completely unbroken the whole time. He never even took his hands off the keyboard between pieces. Every note was distinct, & he used no pedal. His tempos were even & often deliberative, with no rubato or pulsing. When he played the repeated eighth notes on the same pitch in the theme of the Fugue in G minor, each note had the same emphasis. The Prelude in D minor was rollicking. The Fugue in E flat minor had the feel of a concluding statement, even though we were far from the end. Mr. Schiff added bright ornaments to the repeats of the Prelude in F minor. The Fugue in G major went breathtakingly fast yet without sounding unsteady. The mood of the Prelude in A minor shifted effortlessly from light to heavy.
The audience was impressively quiet throughout, apart from a collective coughing fit just before the Prelude in B-flat major. Mr. Schiff received a standing ovation & performed the Prelude & Fugue in C major from Book I as an encore. He probably could have kept playing for another dozen keys at least.
§ András Schiff Plays Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II
András Schiff, piano
Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II BWV 870 - 893
Bach: Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C major BWV 846 from Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
Sun, Oct 21, 2012 at 2:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall