52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  



AmazonUK   ArkivMusic (USA sales only)


Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Well Tempered Clavier, Book I (1722), Book II (1738-42)
Evelyne Crochet (piano)
rec. Academy of Arts & Letters, New York City, September 2000
MUSIC & ARTS 1180 [4 CDs: 65:45 + 67:03 + 63:49 + 62:59]

Comparisons: Aldwell/Nonesuch, Feinberg/Russian Disc, Fellner/Erato, Fischer/Naxos, Gould/Sony, Gulda/Philips, Richter/RCA, Schepkin/Ongaku, Tureck/DG and BBC
Beauty, elegance and exquisite pianism grace the new set of Bach's complete Well-Tempered Clavier played by Evelyne Crochet. Although relatively obscure, this native of France has been performing in concert and on records since the early 1960s. Crochet's repertoire covers a wide spectrum from Baroque to 20th century music, and she has championed the piano music of Fauré and Satie; her 1960s set for Vox of the complete Fauré piano works remains a landmark of the composer's discography. Crochet currently lives and teaches privately in New York City.
After listening to Crochet's Fauré recordings in addition to her Well-Tempered Clavier, I have to say that she was born to play the piano. In her Bach set, the chords are perfectly formed, rhythms are gracious, and she is fantastic at floating a note. Every aspect of the performance is beautiful as Crochet presents a natural progression of each prelude and fugue.
There are a few features that other Bach pianists convey that Crochet chooses not to involve herself in. There isn't any strong Gould-like propulsion, contours are not sharp, the bleak terrains offered by Tureck are rather mild in Crochet's hands, and the majesty and power so prevalent in Richter's performances are only in the moderate level from Crochet. I find the most significant failing to be Crochet's reluctance to vary tempo and pacing within each piece of music; you definitely won't find in her interpretations any use of hesitations or the staggering of musical lines.
Yet, I love her Book II where she uses her unsentimental legato to wonderful effect in Bach's chromatic music. With Crochet, I hear "rays of light" from the chromatic architecture that I've never heard from any other version of Book II. There's no doubt in my mind that her strength is legato playing with a relatively light touch. Also, her terracing of rhythmic lines and supple phrasing take a backseat to no other recording of the work.
Book I is not as successful. Here, Crochet engages in more variety of touch and articulation. In most cases, this would be all to the good. But Crochet is not very effective playing notes in a detached manner. I should report that the reviewer for American Record Guide found Crochet more compelling in Book I for her greater variety of articulation. Again, I have to say that this variety takes Crochet out of her comfort zone.
Is Crochet too limiting? Not really. She can "power-up" and sharpen her contours when necessary such as in the C minor Prelude and E minor Fugue from Book I as well as the D minor Prelude and the A minor Fugue from Book II. However, the performances take off into transcendent realms when her legato intersects with Bach's dense chromatic structures. As for the sonics, they are on the rich side but with sufficient clarity and definition.
I treasure this set for Crochet's uplifting performance of Book II and consider it one of the best on record; Book I is merely very good. Overall, this 4-CD set is excellent and not far behind the exceptional piano versions listed in the heading.
Whether or not you acquire the Crochet set, you owe it to yourself to become intimate with perhaps the most magnificent body of keyboard music ever composed. What we have here is a virtual compendium of style and architecture known in Bach's time as well as the widest array of emotional content I've heard from any keyboard music. Add in heavenly melodies and emotional depth that speaks from the abyss, and the result is hours of reveling in 48 prelude/fugue combinations (96 pieces of music) that stay with you for days on end. Evelyne Crochet is a breathtaking guide in Book II, and that's sufficient to warrant the price of admission. Further, readers who love their Bach played in legato fashion should consider Crochet a mandatory item for their Bach library.
Don Satz


AmazonUK   ArkivMusic (USA sales only)



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.