[7 January 2008]
There are already a number of fine recordings of Bach’s Das Wohltemperierte Klavier I (The Well-Tempered Clavier; Book I), but there’s room for another. This is particularly true if it’s as well played as Andrew Rangell’s latest recording of the work for Bridge Records. Rangell is a versatile artist, having recorded early keyboard music, warhorses of the Classical repertory such as Beethoven and Chopin, and even music by modern composers. He has a particularly affinity for the works of Bach, and it shows in the elegant performances rendered here.
Bach’s Preludes and Fugues in all 24 major and minor keys have confounded even established pianists, but Rangell seems comfortably at home with the pieces. He has an impeccable choice of tempi, never allowing a Prelude or Fugue to become too labored or, conversely, to seem unapproachably fast. His ornamentation is imaginative and cleanly rendered. What’s more, his performances are imbued with emotional immediacy, demonstrating that Bach need never seem passionless or sterile. This disc is an excellent choice for Classical neophytes and connoisseurs alike.