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Well Tempered Clavier Book II BWV 870-893

Gary Kooper (Harpsichord)

Cooper WTC II

K-2

Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II

WTC 1: 24 Preludes & Fugues BWV 846-869

Gary Cooper (Harpsichord)

ASV

Mar 2001

2-CD / TT:

Recorded at St. Michael's Church, Great Tew, Oxfordshire, England.
Buy this album at: Amazon.com

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 7, 2001):
I have just listened to Gary Cooper's new WTC II. I have been collecting Don's reviews, and went back to see some of his comments on the Cooper WTC I, and, I must admit (though this is not surprising), I cannot agree with Don on his opinion of Cooper's playing.

This, naturally, depends on the Satz’ approach to listening, which is not mine - by focusing on individual pieces, there are indeed some gems, but, when listening to the overall work, it just doesn't do it. Cooper plays most of the pieces slowly, very slowly (yet some of them are as fast as most performers play them). The problem is that, while some of the fugues, especially, work well at these slow tempi, they don't always fit with the preceding or following preludes which can be played at "normal" tempi.

His harpsichord - a copy of a Christian Zell - has a dark, rich sound which is quite nice. But, unfortunately, there is no unity in his recording. The pieces sound as if each one is approached differently. Don will like this; I don't think I'll be listening to it much.

 

Feedback to the Review

Donald Satz wrote (November 8, 2001):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Hold on Kirk. I think we are closer on Cooper's Bach than you feel we are. In my review of quite a few WTC 1's, Cooper was some distance from the best versions. I did give him credit when he came up with a deep and poignant performance, but I also indicated that he had a tendency to stick on the surface of the music. The fact is that I haven't listened to the set since I reviewed it, and I've been wavering as to buying Cooper's Book II.

I guess I'll have to add Kirk to the list of website folks who do not share much affinity with my musical preferences; the list also has at least Jim Morrison and Brad Lehman on it. Is there anyone out there who's on my wavelength?

Michael Grover wrote (November 8, 2001):
[To Donald Satz] I'm probably the wrong person to respond to this for the simple fact that I don't own many recordings and haven't heard most of the recordings you review. Being poor and all, I'm "only" up to about 50 Bach CDs. However, I do agree with most of your comments on what you appreciate in performance style, expressiveness, etc. The one recording I've purchased based on your recommendations, the van Dael/van Asperen violin & harpsichord sonatas (I bought both CDs), I have enjoyed very very much. The other purchases I've made recently because of this list are Jaccottet's WTC and Robert Hill's "Works for Lute-Harpsichord". All winners.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 8, 2001):
Donald Satz wrote:
< Hold on Kirk. I think we are closer on Cooper's Bach than you feel we are. In my review of quite a few WTC 1's, Cooper was some distance from the best versions. I did give him credit when he came up with a deep and poignant performance, but I also indicated that he had a tendency to stick on the surface of the music. The fact is that I haven't listened to the set since I reviewed it, and I've been wavering as to buying Cooper's Book II. >
I was joshing you just a bit, Don. :-) Actually, reading your reviews, you pointed out how some of his pieces were slow and without feeling:

< Cooper is very slow at almost 3 minutes and doesn't put a great deal of feeling into the music; >
I feel that this is the case often. His tempi are too slow, for many pieces, but sometimes it does indeed work. I think his problem is that his choice of slow tempi for certain pieces is erroneous. Others sound great, though.

< I guess I'll have to add Kirk to the list of website folks who do not share much affinity with my musical preferences; the list also has at least Jim Morrison and Brad Lehman on it. Is there anyone out there who's on my wavelength? >
Aw, we agree on a lot of stuff. But your way of approaching such music - analyzing the bits individually - is not mine. Cooper, IMHO, has some pieces that work, when looking at his recording that way, but on a larger scale I find it just lacks vision.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 8, 2001):
Michael Grover wrote:
< I'm probably the wrong person to respond to this for the simple fact that I don't own many recordings and haven't heard most of the recordings you review. Being poor and all, I'm "only" up to about 50 Bach CDs. >
Don't feel guilty - profit from the list to make sure that you only buy good recordings. Quantity is not as important as quality.

Actually, I have been thinking recently of getting rid of a lot of my CDs, especially Bach. If I keep just the best recording of each work (plus any others that stand out) I could probably make a fair amount of room... I have a dozen Goldbergs, but only listen to 3 or 4 of them regularly, for example...

Michael Grober wrote (November 8, 2001):
Kirk McElhearn wrote: <
Don't feel guilty - profit from the list to make sure that you only buy good recordings. Quantity is not as important as quality. >
I certainly have profited in that respect. For example, I probably would have never bought a Rilling cantata CD without being on this list and the cantatas list, but I'm certainly glad I did. Oh, and I didn't know about BRO before getting on this list, either. :-)

< Actually, I have been thinking recently of getting rid of a lot of my CDs, especially Bach. <snip> >
Heresy! Blasphemy! ;-) Of course, I'm sure there are plenty of people on this list who would be standing in line to help "relieve" you of your "burden".

Jim Morrison wrote (November 8, 2001):
I'm about to be moving across country and like Kirk, I've been thinking about getting rid of some CDs as well. Moving has a way of making you want to get rid of the stuff you never use.

It's funny how many discs/tapes/records I hardly ever listen to. I look at my collection sometimes and wonder "what in the world am I doing with this disc." Impulse buy, or first time purchase of a particular work that turns out to be a version not fit for me, taking the record reviewers too seriously, cheap disc, used disc, wanting to hear a different approach to a work I'm fond of, wanting to hear a particular instrument, increasing my range of exposure to different musical ears, etc.

Right now I'm listening to Alan Cuckston on Naxos play some F. Couperin and I'm really bored with it. Why do I have it? Found it used for 4 dollars and wanted to hear some solo work from F. Couperin.

A friend asked me recently to name some of my all-time favorite discs and I was a bit startled by how quickly I ran out of real favorites, you know, the kind you go back to month after month year after year. I'm pretty sure that if some of us on the list lived in the same town and could share CDs so that we could listen to them for a while before committing to buying that my collection would be much smaller.

Maybe as the years go on and I curb my CD buying habit I'll turn back to my collection and find some over-looked treasures.

Thumbs up on the Savall MO. It's kind of dark and serious at times, isn't it? And I mean that in a good way. Certainly not Rococo Bach.

Too early to tell how it's going to affect my usual preference for the Hanssler and Leonhardt sets. Probably not much. Like was said earlier, there are so many very different recordings of this work it's hard to even compare them with each other. I probably have about ten.

Wish Hantaï wouldn't have been placed higher in the mix in the ensemble pieces, but that's the life of a harpsichord player working with others. Moving music on his solos. Fantasitc sound, as Kirk brought up.

 

Well Tempered Clavier Book I BWV 846-869: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
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 - S. Richter | WTC I - S. Schepkin
Well Tempered Clavier Book II BWV 870-893: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9
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: 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

Gary Cooper: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Cooper WTC II

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Last update: żOctober 18, 2006 ż10:48:01