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12.1.12

Listen What the Cat Dragged In: The Nightingale & The Well Tempered Clavier


available at AmazonJ.S.Bach, WTC Books 1 & 2,
Christine Schornsheim
Capriccio 7115
The atmosphere was Germanic-proper, cordial, and perhaps a touch cool when I met harpsichordist, fortepianist, continuo player Christine Schornsheim in her practice room at the Gasteig (Munich) some time mid-2010. It was just after she had finished recording the first book of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier—her most important musical tonic, and she complained that she hadn’t been able to get in touch with the head of her record label, Capriccio, to see when or how the project would proceed. The project did proceed, since: Mme. Schornsheim has recorded the second book, too, and the complete four CD set will be available later this month.

Considerable enthusiasm was—at last—notable, when she talked about the instrument on which she was and would be recording the Well-Tempered Clavier::


Yes, a harpsichord: all on one instrument, although there would have been a lot of possibilities to mix and match, too. Several Préludes, I think, would fit the clavichord very nicely, some very neatly the organ. And some could even be played on a very early fortepiano. So in theory one could have used several instruments for that project, too. [As she did for her complete Haydn Sonata recording.] But it wouldn’t do justice to the reality of listening habits. With Haydn I was able to arrange them in such a way as to have any one CD contain only sonatas performed on one particular instrument. That wouldn’t have been possible here and I think it’s problematic to have more than one instrument on one CD. The different levels of loudness and dynamics would have meant that you either have to manipulate on the technical side or else be thrown about constantly, neither of which I think is a good solution. And that’s not even considering whether the pitch is exactly identical … nah. Aside, the instrument I got to use is every harpsichordist’s dream: an original, exceptionally well restored, rightly very popular Ruckers in Colmar. Black, almost nondescript looking, but with an unbelievably singing tone that has you addicted as soon as you touch it. I liken it to a nightingale. Not the prettiest bird around, but the most beautiful sounding.


Here is an excerpt

J.S.Bach, Prélude no.3 in C sharp Major, BWV 872 (excerpt), Christine Schornsheim, Capriccio 7115