Bach: Das wohltemperierte Klavier, Volume 1

Reviewed on Tue 30 Apr, 2019

Steven Devine takes a measured but crisply fluid approach that imbues this much recorded music with a pleasing immediacy.

Thoughtful and measured, poetic and precise, Steven Devine takes a measured but crisply fluid approach that imbues this much recorded music with a pleasing immediacy. Elegantly accommodating shifts of mood and tone, while adroitly building incremental complexity as each exquisite, effervescent prelude gives way to a more thoughtful, interior fugue of noticeably darker hues, the result is something rather hypnotic. Devine’s excellent booklet notes helpfully discuss the contested history of appropriate tuning and explain his choice of a “modified” approach to the Kirnberger III system “so as to retain the key colours that make the harpsichord sing so much better”. His quiet, intimate exploration is helped by a bright, responsive, two-manual modern harpsichord by Colin Booth (based on an earlier, single manual model by the 18th-century maker Johann Christof Fleischer) and beautifully recorded sound by Adam Binks that manages to be simultaneously deliberate and discrete.
–Michael Quinn