The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II

Peter Hill

Delphian Records


  • Peter Hill is the latest to join the parade of pianists – Edwin Fischer, Glenn Gould, Angela Hewitt, Sviatoslav Richter, András Schiff and Rosalyn Tureck, to name just a few – who have recorded JS Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. In addition to his explorations of the second Viennese School, Hill is best known for his monumental cycle of the complete piano works of Olivier Messiaen. Indeed, many of the qualities that characterise his Messiaen are present here: note his use of varied pianistic colours – here muted, there radiant, sonorous then shimmering. And, as in his recordings of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, Hill unfolds contrapuntal lines with clarity, displaying an eloquent understanding of the music’s underlying structure. BBC Music Magazine
  • Peter Hill’s eminence as a Messiaen scholar and as an outstanding interpreter of his music has tended to overshadow his qualities in a much wider range of repertoire. But JS Bach is also a special interest of Hill’s, and this account of the less often performed half of the 48 Preludes and fugues underlines what a fine pianist he is. Every performance here is quite audibly the product of careful consideration … Yet there is 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. With luck this will be the first in a series of Bach recordings from Hill. Guardian

  • 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. The Scotsman
  • [Peter Hill] gives exceptional readings, scholarly yet living, the intricate intellectualism well attend to, but there is also a vital communication that makes this music so relevant today. For all the compositional rigour, Hill makes these Preludes and Fugues sing and dance, and also brings out their unshakable foundations of faith. Hi-Fi Critic
  • Peter Hill makes an engaging, penetrating, thoughtful and entertaining guide to Bach’s flights of fancy and rigorous counterpoint. His touch, and the clarity of his fingerwork, 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. BBC Radio 3: CD Review

Track listing

  • CD 1
  • 1–2 Prelude & Fugue I in C major
  • 3–4 Prelude & Fugue II in C minor
  • 5–6 Prelude & Fugue III in C sharp major
  • 7–8 Prelude & Fugue IV in C sharp minor
  • 9–10 Prelude & Fugue V in D major
  • 11–12 Prelude & Fugue VI in D minor
  • 13–14 Prelude & Fugue VII in E flat major
  • 15–16 Prelude & Fugue VIII in D sharp minor
  • 17–18 Prelude & Fugue IX in E major
  • 19–20 Prelude & Fugue X in E minor
  • 21–22 Prelude & Fugue XI in F major
  • 23–24 Prelude & Fugue XII in F minor
  • CD 2
  • 1–2 Prelude & Fugue XIII in F sharp major
  • 3–4 Prelude & Fugue XIV in F sharp minor
  • 5–6 Prelude & Fugue XV in G major
  • 7–8 Prelude & Fugue XVI in G minor
  • 9–10 Prelude & Fugue XVII in A flat major
  • 11–12 Prelude & Fugue XVIII in G sharp minor
  • 13–14 Prelude & Fugue XIX in A major
  • 15–16 Prelude & Fugue XX in A minor
  • 17–18 Prelude & Fugue XXI in B flat major
  • 19–20 Prelude & Fugue XXII in B flat minor
  • 21–22 Prelude & Fugue XXIII in B major
  • 23–24 Prelude & Fugue XXIV in B minor
  • Total playing time [2 CDs] [2:38:10]