H is for harpsichord vs piano
Extracts from interviews with Angela Hewitt, and Steve Reich, which will be broadcast on Radio 3 during 'A Bach Christmas'.
"On the harpsichord, you can't imitate the human voice by tapering a phrase- it must have disappointed people in Bach's time and I'm sure that Bach would have been thrilled to have had a keyboard instrument that could do this. The invention of the piano enabled this, and also produced a more powerful sound.
Bach gives you a wonderful technical grounding in how to play the keyboard. In his introduction to the 2 and 3 part inventions Bach explained that they were to develop playing clearly in 2 and then 3 voices, to develop a singing tone and to develop the independence of every finger. From a musical point of view, Bach helps learn about composition and structure - the development of themes through fugal treatments, phrasing, musical line - everything really. Bach gives such a good grounding to going on to later composers... you can hear a difference between pianists who have had that grounding. "
"To me one of the greatest experiences of my youth was hearing the original Glenn Gould recording of the Goldberg Variations when I was at Cornell. When I discovered Bach I thought 'it's got to be on a harpsichord, anything else is a complete violation of history' and then I heard the Gould recording and said 'forget it'! "