Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I

Reviewed on Fri 06 Sep, 2019

Occasional romantic accents and moments of spontaneous commentary aside, there’s something sublime about Jarrett’s largely unadulterated approach ranging so elegantly across this vast, variegated terrain.

Keith Jarrett’s 1987 studio recording of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier was admired for the restraint, simplicity and directness of its execution, qualities even more eloquently to the fore in this almost simultaneous live recording. Captured in the crisp, clear acoustic of New York’s Troy Savings Bank Music Hall a month after the studio sessions, these are measurably more fluid performances that allows the improvisational signature Jarrett established his name with in jazz circles to break the surface of this disciplined but exquisitely delineated music. Less obviously considered, more immediate and emotionally differentiated, this live account (no discernible noises-off, applause restricted to the end of each disc) proves to be an invaluable record of Jarrett in the music in the moment: clear, concise and crystalline. Occasional romantic accents and moments of spontaneous commentary aside, there’s something sublime about Jarrett’s largely unadulterated approach ranging so elegantly across this vast, variegated terrain. The disappointing booklet includes swathes of empty white space in the absence of any notes.
–Michael Quinn