BACH: Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 1) – David Korevaar, piano – MSR 1003 (2 CDs), 115:28 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
David Korevaar is Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His way with Book 1 is a very liberal approach to this seminal score that takes Bach at his word when he listed the very generic “clavier” in the title. The word indicates that any keyboard instrument could be expected to play these pieces, although we do know that the composer himself favored the clavichord for its clarity and subtle distinctions of timbre and delicacy. Yet that instrument is usually ignored today, and there are more modern piano recordings of this music than anything else. Different pianists, like Gould, take different approaches to these works, from near-historical rapprochement to more freely wheeling guises that try to employ the advantages of the modern instrument to full effect. This is one of those recordings.
There is liberal use of the piano pedal, quite a wide dynamic spectrum, including the use of crescendos and decrescendos, very apposite liberties taken with phrasing, extensive rubato, and generally what we might call a freethinker’s Bach. Technically Korevaar has the chops to manage the trickiest of Bach’s contrapuntal prestidigitation, and plays with a very silken touch, always keeping the line firm and unswervingly melodic. His main concern seems not to be the metrical aspects of the score, but instead the emotive content of each bar. Those going into this expecting to find Glenn Gould are going to be disappointed; likewise those seeking a more stringent harpsichord-like reading. But if you want the emotional core of Bach, this excellent recording will get you very, very near. Enthusiastically recommended.
— Steven Ritter