The Well-Tempered Clavier
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Sviatoslav Richter and Glenn Gould are outstanding geniuses.
They created Bach's music through the piano.
No other pianists can do the same performance like Richter or Gould.

A History of the Well Tempered Clavier Performance by Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Richter did not play the WTC in public in 1980's nor in 1990's.
Data from "Sviatoslav Richiter Notebooks and Conversations" by Bruno Monsaingeon 1998
There may be some differences between the graphs and the chart below.

Programs of concerts (only about the WTC)
yearmondaylocationBook 123456789 101112131415161718192021222324
1937Conservatory? ???????????? ????????????
194610Moscow1 & 2 oooooooooooo oooooooooooo
1954510 Budapest 1oooo oo
196211 Perugia 1oooooooo
196211Perugia1 oooooooo
196212Paris1 oooooooo
196322London1 oooooooo
196329Brussels1 oooooooo
1963223Geneva1 oooooooo
196342Bern1 oooooooo
196344Strasbourg1 oooooooo
1969117 Leningrad 1 oooooooooooo
1969118 Leningrad 1 oooooooooooo
196942Paris1 oooooooooooo
196943Leningrad1 oooooooooooo
1969420Moscow1 oooooooooooo
1969421Moscow1 oooooooooooo
1969529Turin1 oooooooooooo
1969530Turin1 oooooooooooo
196965 Bologna 1 oooo oooo
1969616 Florence 1 oooo oooo
1969620Lausanne1 oooo oooo
196975Tours1 oooooooooooo
196976Tours1 oooooooooooo
1969820 Locarno 1 oooooooo oooooooo
1969104King's Lynn1 oooo oooo
1969107Newcastle1 oooo oooo
1969109Northhampton1 oooo oooo
19691015Ely oooo oooo
yearmondaylocationBook 123456789 101112131415161718192021222324
197335Vienna2 oooooooooooo o
1973311Vienna2 oooooooooooo
1973316Budapest2 oooooooooooo o
1973318Budapest2 oooooooooooo
1973511Turku2 oooooooo
1973513Helsinki2 oooooooo
1973515Leningrad2 oooooooo
1973628Paris2 oooooooooooo
1973630Meslay2 oooooooooooo
197377Meslay2 oooooooooooo
1973710Paris2 oooooooooooo
1973712Gourdon2 oooo oooo
1973715Carcassonne2 oooo oooo
1973718Provence2 oooooooooooo
1973726Innsbruck2 oooooooooooo
1973728Innsbruck2 oooooooooooo
197387Innsbruck1 oooooooooooo
1973810Innsbruck1 oooooooooooo
1973730Ansbach2 oooooooooooo
1973731Ansbach2 oooooooooooo
197575Tours1&2 121 121
yearmondaylocationBook 123456789 101112131415161718192021222324


Sviatoslav Richter recorded the Well Tempered Clavier two times in his life. One is of the year 1970, another is of the year 1973 (from a live recording). The first recording was recorded in one day or another. The second was at live for two day concert for the WTC 1. There seemed to be no complicated editting procedures. Richter was a genuine live performer. The second version "Great Legacies of Sviatoslav Richter J.S.Bach THE WELL-TEMPERED CLAVIER" was selected in later days around 1995 by Richiter himself for coming generations (as his words).
Sviatoslav Richter was born in Zhitomir, in the Ukraine, on March 20, 1915. Neuhaus, his teatcher, said, "Here is the pupil for whom I have waited all my life. In my opinion, he is a genius." It was not until May 1960 that he was allowed to travel to the West. The leading piano teacher at the Juilliard School, Rosina Lhevinne, praised it: "Richter is an inspired poet of music ... an exceptional phenomenon of the twentieth century." Richter was an excellent sight-reader and could immediately play pieces he had never seen or heard. Richter died in Moscow on August 1, 1997.

In some cases he felt that others had played these pieces so well that he had nothing else to say. So he dared not play the Goldberg Variations nor Kreisleriana. He surely loved those works. Almost all works for piano of J.S.Bach and Roberto Schumann were played by him in concert or for recording except those two great works. Richiter never played them.

Who are "others" for those specific works?
"I've heard G.G. play in the concert hall, and have also listened to his recording. Some day I'd like to play it (the Goldberg Variations) myself - if ever I manage to master it.", he noted in 1973.*

He noted also in 1972, "My recording of Part One is undoubtedly more successful than that of Part Two. In the second volume, it's the most significant preludes and fugues that have turned out the worst - those in E flat minor (No.8) , F sharp minor (No.14), and this weighs heavily on my conscience."*

Again Richiter was distressed in 1975 listening his own record, "Unlike Part One, which is fairly successful, this recording of Part Two is riddled with mistakes, above all - unfortunately - in the most important preludes and fugues, such as in F sharp minor and B flat minor."*
* from "Sviatoslav Richiter Notebooks and Conversations"
written by Bruno Monsaingeon 1998
translated by Stewart Spencer

In comparison of two versions for the WTC Book2 No.14 Prelude and Fugue, I became to think that the 1973 version could confirm him that the WTC was his own exclusive possession. Sviatoslav Richiter has the Well Tempered Clavier as Glenn Gould has the Goldberg Variations.


Listen! - S. Richiter 1st --- Glenn Gould --- S. Richiter 2nd - Listen!


A History of the Well Tempered Clavier Performance by Glenn Gould

Programs of concerts, broadcastings or recordings
(only about the WTC)
yearmondaylocationBook 123456789 101112131415161718192021222324
1946410Toronto2 o
1947410Toronto2 o o
19521021Radio2 o
1953216Ottawa2 o
1954226Radio2 o oo
1954114Montreal2 o o
195778Recording2 o o
19626,9-Recording1 oooooooo
196334TV2 f
19636,8-Recording1 oooo oooo
19652,8-Recording1 oooooooo
19668,9-Recording2 oooooooo
19661113Radio1 p
19661129Radio2 ffff
19671,2-Rec Again2 oooooooo
1967312Radio1 oooo
19699,1210Recording2 oooo oooo
1970218TV2 o oo
19711-Recording2 oooooooo
yearmondaylocationBook 123456789 101112131415161718192021222324

p : only prelude, f : only fugue
Data from "Glenn Gould Life and Variations"
by Otto Friedrich 1989

Glenn Gould was born in Toronto, Canada on September 25, 1932. He won first prize in the 1946 "Piano Trophy Competition". He played the Prelude and Fugue in B flat minor from the Well Tempered Clavier Book 1. This was the only piano competition in which Gould took part.
After that Gould never played any Prelude nor Fugue from the Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 on concert. It is very different from the case of Richiter. Richiter played much more times Book 1 than Book 2, even though he started his study of WTC from Book 2.

In 1962 Gould began recording the Well Tempered Clavier in the Columbia's New York studio. It took nine years to complete in total. The Book 1 was released in 1965. The Book 2 in 1972.
He might have said, "I would like to be a recording producer for Richiter, if he wants me to be. His music is great, but recording was so bad." Richiter would have replied, "I am a performing pianist. Recording should be a result of performance." Regretfully there is the best performance of S. Richiter's Well Tempered Clavier Book 2 beautiful No.14 Fsharp minor on the CD live-recorded in 1973 in Innsbruck with many annoying coughs from the audience instead of Gould's joyful hummings.


WTC 1 - Prelude No.24
Before his recording, Glenn Gould listened to the performance of the WTC Book 1 the 24th Prelude by Leopold Stokowski's transcription with his orchestra. Of course almost everyone knew it.
Stokowski Style
Then Gould realized that it was a losing game to play that Prelude with the similar style, and that a complete new way of playing was necessary for him, which was completely different from the orchestration of Leopold Stokowski. So he decided to play it without refrains and with staccatos of walking base. It was interesting but not great. Gould's performance was very much to the point. Walking base plays a major role in this Prelude, which Sviatoslav Richter would have never understood.

After that, Sviatoslav Richter recorded it in 1970. It was like Stokowski's piano version, but it was much more great and spiritual.

Gould regreted it but it was too late. After all the WTC Book 1 belonged to Richter. Anyway Gould was glad to find out that in the Book 2 especially on the 14th Prelude and Fugue he had won the game against Sviatoslav Richter.

Gould Style
Richter Style

Glenn Gould passed away in 1982.

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