J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II (2 CDs)

A recognised authority in twentieth-century and contemporary music, Peter Hill turns for the first time on disc to another of his lifelong preoccupations: the music of J.S. Bach. On this new recording, Hill brings his customary scholarly acumen and crystalline musical intelligence to bear on Book Two of the ‘48’ – music of ‘unsurpassed inventiveness’.

"Hill's technique is impressive, but he eschews flamboyant showmanship, bringing instead humility, poise and gravitas to these accounts. Tempos are thoughtfully judged and tend to underscore the reflective, meditative qualities that underlie many of Bach's later works"

"Hill is unfailingly musicianly in his approach, his playing full of the kind of insights that can only come from long acquaintance with the music. He lets Bach speak for himself - this is entirely unegotistical playing - the opposite end of the specturm from Gould's highly interventionist approach....What I miss in Hill's recording is an audible relish for the instrument itself."

"Every performance here is quite audibly the product of careful consideration; every musical decision, whether over tempi, phrasing, or dynamics, seems utterly logical. Yet there's nothing didactic about the results, just a wonderfully natural unfolding of these pieces, in which Hill is never ashamed to make full use of the tonal resources of the modern piano. The crystalline quality of his quiet playing is a regular pleasure."

"Peter Hill is an engaging, penetrating, thoughtful and entertaining guide to Bach’s flights of fancy and rigorous counterpoint. His touch, and the clarity of his finger work, is impeccable; he doesn’t over-ornament, he doesn’t rush the preludes, he weights the voices and balances the fugues with insight. And even though Hill’s playing is suffused with the meditative and spiritual qualities you’d hope to find, he still remembers that Bach likes the odd dance."

"Mentioning all the high spots would require too many words. Hill’s lyrical way with the preludes is a consistent joy, and the gentle, unobtrusive control of tempo makes some of them sound like baroque improvisations. He can play with delicacy and humility."

"Too often pigeonholed as a 'Messiaen-pianist'...Hill here shows a natural and direct response to Bach's invention that makes a refreshing alternative to some of his starrier, flashier rivals on disc."


"Even though Hill is not an 'official' Bach specialist, he has clearly lived with these pieces in depth, and his insights are meaningful...Delphian's recorded sound does his playing full justice."

"Hill’s approach is to capture the engaging balance between the crisp clarity of the music and its innate lyrical soul. He makes no apologies for the expressive potential of the piano, but simply uses that to harness the universality of the music, from its pre-echoes of early classicism to sparks of undeniable romantic mood-painting. Never once, though, does it sell out Bach’s stylistic integrity."

"Peter Hill is that rare musician: a virtuoso with an immaculate and comprehensive technique allied to unusual and practical scholarship of great depth of knowledge, which he brings to the imposing task of Bach’s TheWell-Tempered Clavier. His performances throughout Book II on these Delphian discs are immaculate in terms of realisation of the notation, but are also driven by an emotional, expressive range that at all times looks below the surface of the music to divine the depths of Bach’s creativity."

Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue: University Concert Hall, Cardiff
Recording dates: 11-13 November 2010 & 19-20 February 2011
Physical format: Jewel case (slimline double)
Number of discs: 2
Number of tracks: 48
Release date: 9 January 2012
Catalogue No: DCD34101
Total playing time: 2:38:10

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