I’ve loved this work ever since the BBC broadcast video performances shared by -
Gavrilov, MacGregor, Demidenko & Hewitt
I then bought Schiff’s Bach set & Gould’s.
I’ve since also explored Feinberg’s and Richter’s sets.
Who do you guys count among your favourites in this hallowed repertoire?
I love Richter’s Book 1, and Sokolov is extraordinary in much of Book 2. Feinberg’s is a bit of an alternate take, but is highly worthwhile in both books. I rarely listen to any other complete sets, but beyond them I’d first say take a look at Fischer. Schiff offers quality musicianship, and he has my favourite Book II F minor, but I find his Bach too limpid and prettified. It works great in the Goldbergs, but I often have problems with it elsewhere. Several more good if you’re fine with selections - including Backhaus, who did not record a complete set.
What I heard from Gieseking was quite disappointing, even sloppy.
After the war, his level was not quite the same and in the 1950s he also had some health problems after a bus/car accident. Apart from that, he was simply too busy with teaching and concertizing, lacking time to be really well prepared for such huge projects as recording complete WTC.
I have to admit I didn’t listen to that much of it because the tuning bugged me, but I didn’t notice the sloppiness? I probably didn’t get far enough into it to hear that. I don’t think I really have a favourite WTC. I probably listen to Richter’s the most (usually the studio version). I don’t always agree with his interpretations, but he has this amazing ability to win me over even when my instincts go against what he does.