A SEQUENCED version of Bach's Well-tempered Clavier (WTC)? I'm not immune to the ritualistic muttering of anathemas the proposition elicits. Not live. Not real. Not music. And so on.
The critique may be softened a little when we observe that ALL recorded performances are by that very fact--"recorded" not heard live--already at least once removed from "the real thing." Ex post facto editing of recorded performances removes them more still, to various degrees, from live performance.
Live performances, heard in situ, are the benchmark. I don't dispute that proposition (although Glenn Gould did). But, for me, that is exactly why "sequencing" and preconceived, transparently non-spontaneous recordings have an important place in the increasingly vast repository of recordings of the WTC. With the exception of live and completely unedited recordings of the WTC by Richter, Feinberg, Fischer, Jarrett, and Demus (plus a few others) most recordings of the WTC (there are hundreds at the piano) are not unedited recordings. They are not recordings of the pianist playing in one take. And yet, even with editing, often extensive, they are marred by auditory and interpretive lacunae: the piano sounds "off"; the interpretation altogether lacks coherence; the pianist herself is not happy with the performance or the way the performance was recorded, and so on.
The latter issue--the way the performance is recorded is, I think, the most problematic. Safe to say, there are very few pianists who have not, having sat at a good piano in a perfect acoustic environment and laid down the best performance of their lives, said of the results: "That's not what I heard," or "That doesn't sound like me," or worst of all, "That sounds terrible. Was that me?" The Russian juggernaut pianist Sviatoslav Richter was famous for despairing of his recorded performances. Gould made seemingly endless edits (in that primitive era of magnetic tape recordings and editing) of his performances.
Sequencing with a piano sample avoids, or at least, can diminish the force of these familiar and inevitable pitfalls: if I don't like what I'm hearing I CAN CHANGE IT.
The current approach in the classical music recording business does not allow this. Repeated retakes and splicing (witness Gould's retakes now ubiquitous online)often never, ever really hit the mark. Standard recordings are, in reality, always a halfway house: partly live and unedited and partly edited to fix mistakes or unwanted interpretive lapses or misconceptions. They are a halfway house between a spontaneous live performance and a preconceived (edited) recording. Always, they are this.
That's the beauty of sequencing and posting updates at sites like SoundCloud. I can change my mind. I can update a recording until I get something that speaks to me (even though of course it may not speak to others). In that sense, this account of the WTC is an "idealization." Sure, the process starts, very often, "at the keyboard," in my case, at a Hailun 218, which I tune. and regulate myself. Then I sit down at a Kawai "gran touch" controller (keyboard) and experiment with different piano samples. Then I sit at the computer and play (endlessly) with the recorded result. Suffice it to say, each environment--the Hailun, the Gran Touch, and the sequencing side of it (sitting at the computer)--is a completely different musical context.
Concerning Book 1 as a whole, the lynch pins that hold the edifice together are P&Fs no. 1, 4, 8, 12, 14, 18, and 24. Nos 16 17, 18, and 22 are weighty, and for many listeners might serve as their own WTC1-fulcrums. All masterpieces.