2019 CD release.
“These are performances in which tempos, phrasing, articulation and the execution of ornaments are convincing,” wrote Gramophone of Jarrett’s first recorded account of The Well-Tempered Clavier. “Both instrument and performer serve as unobtrusive media through which the music emerges without enhancement.” In this live recording from Troy, New York, made in March 1987, just one month after his studio recording of the work, Keith Jarrett addresses the challenges of Bach’s great set of preludes and fugues once more. Part of the goal is transparency, to bring the listener closer to the composer. As Jarrett explained at the time: “The very direction of the lines, the moving lines of notes, are inherently expressive…When I play Bach, I hear almost the process of thought. Any colouration has nothing to do with this process.“
In February 1987, Keith Jarrett recorded, on a Steinway grand piano, the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was the first in a series of acclaimed Bach recordings he would make for ECM. On March 7, 1987, prior to the release of the studio set, Jarrett performed the complete WTC Book I for an audience at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in New York state, a venue renowned for it's beautiful acoustics; an archival live recording of this concert, is being presented for the first time.
When the studio album was released, Jarrett's manner in these iconic preludes and fugues surprised many listeners with it's poetic restraint. The pianist was deeply attuned to what he called "the process of thought" in Bach; by not imposing his personality unduly on the music, Jarrett allowed every note of the score to come through via the natural lyricism of the contrapuntal melodic lines, the dance-like pulse of the rhythmic flow. These qualities are strikingly apparent in the live recording. Few jazz artists have so richly explored classical repertoire from Bach and Mozart to Shostakovich, Bartók, Barber and more as Jarrett.
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