Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Well Tempered Clavier Book I BWV 846-869

Christiane Jaccottet (Harpsichord)

Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 from Christiane Jaccottet

DC-1

Bach: Complete Works for Harpsichord, Vol. 1

WTC 1: Preludes & Fugues Nos. 1-19, BWV BWV 846-864

Christiane Jaccottet (Harpsichord)

Digital Concerto

1989

CD / TT:

 

DC-2

Bach: Complete Works for Harpsichord, Vol. 2

WTC 1: 5 Preludes & Fugues Nos. 20-24, BWV 865-869
WTC 2: 10 Preludes & Fugues Nos. 1-10, BWV 870-879

Christiane Jaccottet (Harpsichord)

Digital Concerto 702

1989

CD / TT:

 

PL-1

Bach: Das Wohltempierte Klavier, Teil 1, Vol. 1

WTC 1: 12 Preludes & Fugues Nos. 1-12, BWV 846-857

Christiane Jaccottet (Harpsichord)

Pilz 121 / Zyx

1989

CD / TT: 52:08 / 51:28

Buy this album at: Amazon.de [Zyx] | Amazon.de [2-CD - Zyx]

PL-2

Bach: Das Wohltempierte Klavier, Teil 1, Vol. 2

WTC 1: 12 Preludes & Fugues Nos. 13-24, BWV 858-869

Christiane Jaccottet (Harpsichord)

Pilz 121 / Zyx / Kannon Classics

1989

CD / TT: 51:57

Buy this album at: Amazon.com | Amazon.de [2-CD - Zyx]

Donald Satz wrote (May 5, 2001):
Used CD's, due to their long life, are a blessing to serious collectors and those on tight budgets. I found two sets of Bach's WTC Book 1 in the used bins a few days ago. One is from Ton Koopman on Erato, the other from Christiane Jaccottet on Pilz 160121/22. The Koopman set wasn't exactly cheap, but Jaccottet cost almost nothing.

Christiane Jaccottet will be familiar to many Bach enthusiasts. Her Bach recordings have been circulating for a long time under various label names. The used set I picked up is from the Pilz Vienna Master Series. Opinions of her Bach recordings have ranged from 'good' to something like 'don't waste your time'. The main complaint appears to be that her playing has a mechanical quality to it.

Let's get the sound quality out of the way first. It doesn't come close to state-of-the-art sound; it's not even very good sound. Although early digital or perhaps because of it, the higher notes tend to have a brittle quality and the low notes do not project well. The sound is certainly acceptable, but don't expect to be impressed with it. That brittle sound I mentioned is most obvious in the Fugue in C minor.

Jaccottet does best in the pieces where a delicate nature and joy/comfort are appropriate features. She is exceptional in the Preludes in D major, E major, F sharp major, A flat major, and B major.Her F sharp major Fugue is also in this category.

There are three other pieces where I consider her performances outstanding: the great drive and vitality of her C sharp major Fugue, her intense and foreboding Prelude in D minor, and the inevitability of her Prelude in E flat major.

The majority of Jaccottet's performances in Book 1 are mildly rewarding, easy to enjoy and easy to forget. Only one interpretation is a loser, the Prelude in C minor. Just like Schiff on Decca, Jaccottet tames the wild and demonic nature of the Prelude and makes it into pretty music which is
emotionally stunted.

Overall, I'd place the quality of Jaccottet's performances at Bernard Robert's level on Nimbus. However, Roberts is significantly more enjoyable as he is given an outstanding soundstage.

Don's Conclusions: I can see myself listening in the future to particular preludes and fugues from Jaccottet's Book 1, but I doubt I'll ever put it in the cd player and listen to all of it again. Much of the set is rather ordinary. Is it mechanical playing? Well, sometimes it does sound that way. The major advantage of the set is its tiny price. With that in mind, I can give Jaccottet a qualified recommendation. However, if price is a big issue, either Roberts or Jando on Naxos would be the better acquisitions.

 

Feedback to the Review

Bradley Lehman wrote (May 7, 2001):
Donald Satz wrote:
< Christiane Jaccottet will be familiar to many Bach enthusiasts. Her Bach recordings have been circulating for a long time under various label names. The used set I picked up is from the Pilz Vienna Master Series. Opinions of her Bach recordings have ranged from 'good' to something like 'don't waste your time'. The main complaint appears to be that her playing has a mechanical quality to it. >
"Opinions of her Bach recordings..." -- whose opinions? "The main complaint..." -- whose? Details, please.

...Because I'm wondering if this is the same planet. "Mechanical" is just about the last word I would think of in response to Christiane Jaccottet's playing. Her touch and phrasing are supple, graceful, plastic. She uses gentle rubato all over the place. Her performances are subtle and fluid: malleable.

< The majority of Jaccottet's performances in Book 1 are mildly rewarding, easy to enjoy and easy to forget. Only one interpretation is a loser, the Prelude in C minor. Just like Schiff on Decca, Jaccottet tames the wild and demonic nature of the Prelude and makes it into pretty music which is emotionally stunted. >
This presupposes that one expects the piece to be "wild and demonic" in the first place, as if it were its "nature." Sure, one effective way to play this piece is with a manic headlong drive. (In fact, one of my first piano teachers wrote the word KILL over bar 25 in my score, meaning that I should beat the stuffings out of it.) But it's not the only way to play the piece, and I find Jaccottet's approach equally effective, even refreshing. Bach's notation leaves the music open to various interpretations. Frankly, the type of performance that I find emotionally stunted is the type that has only raw demonic fury. Jaccottet's performance has more varied facets than that; and she presses the harpsichord's keys with an appropriate sensitivity rather than merely KILLing the piece.

Listening to Jaccottet's set, I get the sense that I'm hearing Bach's music presented directly and clearly. I'm not hearing Bach-as-arranged-by-Jaccottet or Bach-as-interpreted-by-a-superstar-wanting-to-make-a-splash. Just the music. It goes well.

< Don's Conclusions: (...) Much of the set is rather ordinary. Is it mechanical playing? Well, sometimes it does sound that way. >
Brad's Conclusions: if Jaccottet is mechanical, it's time to start fearing for our lives. Or at least buying my lunch at a haberdashery.

Incidentally, I went to the interactive Dr Zaius at http://www.execpc.com/~ayanmo/idrzmain.html and entered the question, "What do you think of Jaccottet's Bach?" Dr Zaius responded, "WHY DO YOU BOTHER ME WITH SUCH TRIVIA?" I continued, "But it's so supple!" Dr Zaius continued, "WHAT MENIAL PROBLEMS DO YOU BRING ME, HUMAN?" My third question was, "What do you think of Don Satz' conclusions?" Zaius replied, "IS THAT QUESTION ASKED BY ALL HUMANS?" At this point I gave up on Dr Zaius.

Donald Satz wrote (May 7, 2001):
[To Bardley Lehman] Once again, Brad praises my opinions. Concerning the negative/mechanical opinions I referred to, those come from two listmembers on Classical Net is hosted by Dave Lampson. One listmember, also a member of this list, stated that Jaccottet's WTC was third-rate; the other member found the performances flat and mechanical. Brad may certainly go into Classical Net's archives and read the same comments I read. For what it's worth, the two referenced listmembers are individuals who always seem reasonable and musically knowledgeable.

The above opinions are not mine; I was merely providing the range of opinion that I have read. I don't think that my review was highly complimentary, but it wasn't negative either. I mentioned a number of pieces in the set where I felt Jaccottet was excellent or better, and I offered my opinion of the strengths in her performances. But I can't call the set excellent when I don't find it so. I thought that my conclusion of "qualified recommendation" was fairly developed and represents no one's opinions but mine.

Concerning the Prelude in C minor, "wild and demonic" is the way that most performers on record play or try to play the piece. That appears to be the "usual" approach, and I find it very effective if done well. Of course, I'm open to other approaches, but I don't feel that Jaccottet or Schiff give me anything favorable as a replacement. Brad and I differ on this one, and Brad seems to find more value overall in the set than I do. But, I won't be discarding it. There are some wonderful interpretations form Jaccottet which renders the set a keeper.

Given what appears to be quite a difference in views on the quality of Bach keyboard recordings, I'd be interested in knowing Brad's favorite recordings of the Goldbergs and his least appreciated offerings. I find it hard to listen to Schepkin, Labadie is impossible, and Schiff's only superb performance is the 28th variation. What do you think?

 

Well Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869: Details
Recordings:
Until 1950 | 1951-1960 | 1961-1970 | 1971-1980 | 1981-1990 | 1991-2000 | From 2001
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
WTC I - D. Barenboim [D. Satz] | WTC I - D. Barenboim [P. Bright] | WTC I - T. Fellner | WTC I - E. Fischer | WTC I - M. Horszowski | WTC I - C. Jaccottet | WTC I - R. Kirkpatrick | WTC I - T. Koopman | WTC I - W. Landowska | WTC I - R. Levin | WTC I - O. Mustonen | WTC I - E. Parmentier | WTC I - S. Richter | WTC I - S. Schepkin
General Discussions:
Part 1
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
WTC I - T. Fellner
Well Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893:
Comparative Review:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
WTC II - D. Barenboim [P. Bright] | WTC II - G. Cooper | WTC II - F. Gulda | WTC II - A. Hewitt | WTC II - R. Kirkpatrick | WTC II - J. Middleton
Well Tempered Clavier Books I&II, BWV 846-893:
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
WTC I&II - B.v. Asperen, S. Ross & G. Wilson | WTC I&II - E. Crochet | WTC I&II - O. Dantone | WTC I&II S. Feinberg | WTC II&II - T. Nikolayeva | WTC II&II - L. Thiry [N. Halliday] | WTC I&II - Z. Ruzickova

Christiane Jaccottet: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach’s Inventions/Sinfonias from Christiane Jaccottet | Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 from Christiane Jaccottet

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ęDecember 18, 2006 ę16:06:48