Bach: Well-tempered Clavier, Book 2 / Wanda Landowska

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Landowska's big Pleyel harpsichord was famous, indeed notorious, for its timbral bells and whistles, along with pedals that allowed her to shift registrations on a dime. In other words, it was inauthentic by the authenticity standards of today's historically informed scholar/harpsichordists. So was her subjective, forceful interpretive style. But you can't ignore Landowska's Bach any more than you can look the other way when Horowitz plays Liszt or Toscanini conducts Verdi. The orchestral impact and youthful swagger of the C minor partita's outer movements belie the artist's advanced age, while her finely honed legato technique and wide arsenal of articulations in the Three-Part Inventions substantiate Virgil Thomson's claim that Landowska had "a brain in every finger".

Landowska looked upon her Well-Tempered Clavier recording as her "last will and testament", and a studied air hovers around some of her slow tempo choices. Severe, ricercare-like pieces can be protracted to the point of self-importance, like...the Book II F minor prelude. She also makes curious textual decisions... You also might take issue with her strange rhythmic rewrite of the Book II A minor fugue. Then again, I can't resist...her profound instinct for much of the music's dance-like implications.

--Jed Distler,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: RCA7825

  • UPC: 078635782523

  • Label: RCA

  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

  • Performer: Wanda Landowska


  1. Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 870-893

    Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach

    Performer: Wanda Landowska (Harpsichord)