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This recording uses a lovely harpsichord by Colin Booth, ideal for this music, with both nice resonance and clarity for the contrapuntal writing of Bach. It has excellent recorded quality, and informative sleeve notes which put this monumental collection in a historical perspective. The tuning after Kirnberger III gives nice key colour, for instance between the extremes of C major and A flat major. Steven Devine’s playing is always stylish without being unduly mannered, with a nice sense of rhetorical freedom where appropriate, and excellent clarity of voice parts in the fugues. His playing throughout is of such a high standard that it is difficult to pick out any particular pieces for comment. Highlights for me are the C sharp minor Prelude, with its gentle sense of movement and chromaticism nicely pointed; a splendid, muscular D major fugue; great clarity of voice parts in the E flat major Fugue; the E flat minor Prelude, with its rhapsodic chords and ornamental detail so perfectly placed and arpeggiated; the B flat major Prelude – supremely fine playing with wonderfully controlled stylus fantasticus passage work; and the long, final B minor Fugue, a suitably intense conclusion to a superb recording. Very highly recommended.

DOUGLAS HOLLICK Read the full review on Agora Classica

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