Johann Sebastian Bach – Well-Tempered Clavier, Books 1 & 2
George Lepauw (piano)
ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100107
Release date, 14 February 2020
By Robert Hugill, January 18, 2020
The American pianist George Lepauw has recorded Bach’s complete 48 preludes and fugues, but before he did so he undertook a Bach journey, tracing the arc of the composer’s life from his birthplace in Eisenach to his grave in Leipzig, in order to feel more connected to the man behind the name Bach. The disc was recorded in Weimar’s Jakobskirche, a church well-known to Bach and close to where he had served the dukes of Saxe-Weimar and was briefly imprisoned by his aristocratic masters for disobedience.
Lepauw’s style is definitely pianistic, he is not one of those who approach Bach on the piano by way of the harpsichord so he doesn’t peck, yet nor does he give the sort of highly romanticised view which was more common in the earlier 20th century. Instead, he plots a nice middle way, the fugues have an admirable clarity of line with plenty of clear inner detail whilst the preludes venture into slightly more romantic territory. Leepauw also brings a nice feel for structure, making this an admirable way to explore one of the masterworks of keyboard repertoire.