Sunday afternoon I heard all of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I performed by intellectual rigorous pianist András Schiff. The recital was in 2 stretches of about 50 minutes each, with no breaks between pieces. Mr. Schiff confidently played the entire program from memory. Tempos were moderate & very even, & each voice was perfectly clear. Mr. Schiff played with a lot of non-legato, keeping his hands close to the keyboard & his right foot glued to the floor. He was conscientious about holding down notes for their exact durations, except for the final chords of each half of the program, which he held for a sense of finality & to keep the audience from clapping immediately. He threw in occasional discrete ornaments & improvised triplets on the final chords of the Prelude No. 6 in D minor. He gave many of the pieces a searching feeling. His playing of the Fugue No. 10 in E minor stood out for its compact & abrupt character.
The recital was well-attended. 15 minutes before start time the will call line extended out along the sidewalk. The audience was very quiet, apart from a couple of coughers. 2 people in my row followed along with scores. Mr. Schiff received a standing ovation & gave us a quickstepping version of the 1st Prelude & Fugue from Book II as an apt encore.
This is the 1st in a cycle of 4 Bach keyboard recitals. Mr. Schiff plays the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II on October 21st & the French & English Suites next year. He also conducts the SF Symphony & lectures this week.
§ András Schiff Plays Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
András Schiff, piano
Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, BWV 846-869
Bach: Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C major, BWV 870 from Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II
San Francisco Symphony
Great Performers Series
Sun, Oct 7, 2012 at 2:00pm
Davies Symphony Hall