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Keith Jarrett's Bach WTC preludes in minor keys, bring out his best / beyondcriticism

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In February 1987, Keith Jarrett recorded, on piano, the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach. It was the first in a series of lauded Bach discs that Jarrett would make for ECM. On March 7, 1987, prior to the release of the studio set, he performed the complete WTC Book I for an audience in upstate New York at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, a venue renowned for its beautiful acoustics. With this release, ECM is presenting an archival live recording of this concert for the first time. When his studio album of the WTC Book I was released, Jarrett's manner in these iconic preludes and fugues surprised many listeners with its poetic restraint, given his renown as a jazz improvisor. But the pianist was deeply attuned to what he called "the process of thought" in Bach; by not imposing his personality unduly on the music, Jarrett allowed the score to shine via the natural lyricism of the contrapuntal melodic lines, the dance-like pulse of the rhythmic flow. These qualities are strikingly apparent in the live recording, with its added electricity of a concert performance.

To these ears, unique insights in Jarrett's Bach from the historic concert recording of March 1987 are evasive, but the preludes in minor keys bring out his best.

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