Bach: The Landowska Recordings (7 CD box set, APE)

Performer: Wanda Landowska
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Audio CD
SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 7 CD box set
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: RCA
Size: 2.01 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: cover

Disc: 1
01. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 1 in C
02. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 1 in C
03. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 2 in C Minor
04. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 2 in C Minor
05. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 3 in C-Sharp
06. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 3 in C-Sharp
07. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 4 in C-Sharp Minor
08. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 4 in C-Sharp Minor
09. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 5 in D
10. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 5 in D
11. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 6 in D Minor
12. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 6 in D Minor
13. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 7 in E-Flat
14. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 7 in E-Flat
15. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 8 in E-Flat Minor
16. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 8 in D-Sharp Minor
17. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 9 in E
18. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 9 in E
19. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 10 in E Minor
20. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 10 in E Minor
21. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 11 in F
22. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 11 in F
23. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 12 in F Minor
24. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 12 in F Minor

Disc: 2
01. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 13 in F-Sharp
02. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 13 in F-Sharp
03. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 14 in F-Sharp Minor
04. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 14 in F-Sharp Minor
05. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 15 in G
06. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 15 in G
07. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 16 in G Minor
08. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 16 in G Minor
09. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 17 in A-Flat
10. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 17 in A-Flat
11. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 18 in G-Sharp Minor
12. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 18 in G-Sharp Minor
13. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 19 in A
14. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 19 in A
15. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 20 in A Minor
16. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 21 in B-Flat
17. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 21 in B-Flat
18. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 22 in B-Flat Minor
19. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 22 in B-Flat Minor
20. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 23 in B
21. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 23 in B
22. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Prelude 24 in B Minor
23. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 846-869 (BC L80-103): Fugue 24 in B Minor

Disc: 3
01. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 1 in C
02. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 1 in C
03. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 2 in C Minor
04. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 2 in C Minor
05. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 3 in C-Sharp
06. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 3 in C-Sharp
07. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 4 in C-Sharp Minor
08. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 4 in C-Sharp Minor
09. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 5 in D
10. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 5 in D
11. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 6 in D Minor
12. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 6 in D Minor
13. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 7 in E-Flat
14. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 7 in E-Flat
15. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 8 in D-Sharp Minor
16. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 8 in D-Sharp Minor

Disc: 4
01. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 9 in E
02. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 9 in E
03. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 10 in E Minor
04. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 10 in E Minor
05. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 11 in F
06. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 11 in F
07. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 12 in F Minor
08. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 12 in F Minor
09. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 13 in F-Sharp
10. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 13 in F-Sharp
11. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 14 in F-Sharp Minor
12. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 14 in F-Sharp Minor
13. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 15 in G
14. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 15 in G
15. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 16 in G Minor
16. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 16 in G Minor

Disc: 5
01. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 17 in A-Flat
02. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 17 in A-Flat
03. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 18 in G-Sharp Minor
04. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 18 in G-Sharp Minor
05. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 19 in A
06. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 19 in A
07. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 20 in A Minor
08. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 20 in A Minor
09. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 21 in B-Flat
10. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 21 in B-Flat
11. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 22 in B-Flat Minor
12. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 22 in B-Flat Minor
13. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 23 in B
14. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 23 in B
15. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Prelude 24 in B Minor
16. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870-893 (BC L104-127): Fugue 24 in B Minor

Disc: 6
01. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Aria
02. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 1
03. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 2
04. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 3: Canone all’unisuono
05. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 4
06. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 5
07. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 6: Canone alla seconda
08. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 7
09. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 8
10. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 9: Canone alla terza
11. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 10
12. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 11
13. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 12: Canone alla quarta
14. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 13
15. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 14
16. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 15: Canone alla quinta
17. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 16: Ouverture
18. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 17
19. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 18: Canone alla sesta
20. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 19
21. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 20
22. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 21: Canone alla settima
23. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 22
24. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 23
25. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 24: Canone alla ottava
26. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 25
27. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 26
28. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 27: Canone alla nona
29. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 28
30. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 29
31. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Variation 30: Quodlibet
32. Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988 (BC L9): Aria
33. Concerto for solo keyboard No. 1 in D major (after Vivaldi Op. 3/9), BWV 972 (BC L189): Allegro
34. Concerto for solo keyboard No. 1 in D major (after Vivaldi Op. 3/9), BWV 972 (BC L189): Larghetto
35. Concerto for solo keyboard No. 1 in D major (after Vivaldi Op. 3/9), BWV 972 (BC L189): Allegro
36. Fantasia and Fugue, for keyboard in C minor (fugue incomplete), BWV 906 (BC L133, 138)
37. Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, for lute in E flat major, BWV 998 (BC L132): Prelude
38. Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, for lute in E flat major, BWV 998 (BC L132): Fugue
39. Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, for lute in E flat major, BWV 998 (BC L132): Allegro

Disc: 7
01. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 1 in C
02. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 2 in C Minor
03. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 3 in D
04. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 4 in D Minor
05. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 5 in E-Flat
06. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 6 in E
07. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 7 in E Minor
08. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 8 in F
09. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 9 in F Minor
10. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 10 in G
11. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 11 in G Minor
12. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 12 in A
13. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 13 in A Minor
14. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 14 in B-Flat
15. Two-Part Inventions for keyboard, BWV 772-786 (BC L42-56): No. 15 in B Minor
16. Fantasia for keyboard in C minor (by Johann Bernhard Bach, not JSB), BWV 919
17. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56): No. 1 in C
18. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56): No. 2 in C Minor
19. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56): No. 5 in E-Flat
20. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56): No. 11 in G Minor
21. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56): No. 13 in A Minor
22. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56): No. 14 in B-Flat
23. Three-Part Inventions (Sinfonias) for keyboard BWV 787-801 (BC L42-56): No. 15 in B Minor
24. Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181): Arioso
25. Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181): Andante (fugato)
26. Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181): Adagissimo
27. Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181): Aria Introduction
28. Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181): Aria di postiglione
29. Capriccio sopra la lotananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, for keyboard in B flat major, BWV 992 (BC L181): Fuga all’imitazione
30. Partita for keyboard No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 (BC L2): Sinfonia
31. Partita for keyboard No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 (BC L2): Allemande
32. Partita for keyboard No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 (BC L2): Courante
33. Partita for keyboard No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 (BC L2): Sarabande
34. Partita for keyboard No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 (BC L2): Rondeau
35. Partita for keyboard No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 (BC L2): Capriccio

SIMPLY SUPERLATIVE

Wanda Landowska’s performance style and her Pleyel harpsichords have become enshrouded in many layers of legend and myth. Her instrument, which she helped design with the engineers of the Pleyel piano firm in Paris, has been dismissed as more piano than harpsichord, which really isn’t true. The essential difference between a piano and harpsichord is that the piano hits the string, while the harpsichord plucks it. The Pleyel harpsichords have the usual mechanics of a jack with a moveable tongue upon which is mounted the plectrum that plucks the string. In all this, the Pleyel is traditional.

When listening to a Landowska performance, we must keep in mind that she was fighting an uphill battle to win converts to the harpsichord, which was considered a frail and anemic instrument, an early version of the piano. But Landowska knew–and proved–that the harpsichord was an instrument in its own right, and not just a primitive piano. So anyone who feels her playing is not as “authentic” as later harpsichordists, such as Gustav Leonhardt or Ton Koopman, should remember that without her, those other musicians would be playing on Steinways today.

Landowska’s design deviated from original instruments in two main areas. First, since she had to tour with the instrument, she wanted one as sturdy and stable as possible, so they used a steel frame, as in a modern piano, for the strings, and used an outer case much thicker than old harpsichords. The result is that far from being too loud, the Pleyel instrument actually has less resonance and carrying power than older instruments with thin, sound-amplifying cases. If Pleyels on record sound loud or bangy, it’s because they were miked so closely; the solution is simply to turn down the volume when you’re playing a Landowska recording.

Her other adaptation was to have foot pedals to change the registers, instead of hand-stops. Registers refers to the number of strings for each key. On a large Pleyel, the lower keyboard has three strings for each key, one at regular pitch (called 8-foot), one an octave higher (called 4-foot) and, most controversially, one an octave lower (called 16-foot); the upper keyboard has an additional 8-foot register. Thus, when the two keyboards are coupled with full registration, four strings sound for every key depressed, giving a very full sound. While 16-foot stops were pretty rare in the 18th century, they did exist. Where Landowska was most audacious was in using the foot pedals to change the registration while she was playing, something that cannot be done easily with hand-stops. To placate listeners who were not familiar with its sound, she incorporated brilliant changes of registration that, some argue, would not have been possible on old instruments.

I was once privileged to have some conversations with the late harpsichordist Igor Kipnis, and I asked his opinion of Landowska’s playing. He said that of course we know that not everything she did was “authentic,” but that her musicianship was so superb that one doesn’t care. More emphatically, the composer Virgil Thomson, who was also a music critic, once wrote of Landowska, “She plays the harpsichord better than anyone else ever plays anything!” That’s pretty high praise, but at times it’s hard to disagree with him. Was her technique diminished by age by the time she made her RCA recordings? Perhaps, but through numerous retakes or whatever they had to do, they ended up with flawless performances.

Landowska’s RCA recordings, being made in the LP era, have much better sound than many of her earlier recordings for other labels, and they feature the crowning glory of her discography, Bach’s complete Well-Tempered Clavier. She didn’t do many other “complete” recordings of sets of pieces (she had recorded the 15 Two-Part Inventions and was in the process of recording the 15 Three-Part Sinfonias at the time of her death); most of her other recordings for RCA or other labels are recital-like collections of various composers. Be aware that this set includes only her Bach recordings for RCA; she recorded many other things for them as well. Let’s hope those are released in a subsequent set. She was a true original and a historic pioneer; her legacy deserves to be preserved, and this set is a great place to start.

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