Artist: Walter Carlos (Wendy Carlos)
Title: The Well Tempered Synthesizer
Format: Single LP
Catalogue Number: CBS 63656
Year of Release: 1969
A1 Stereo Test Tone (0:10)
A2 Monteverdi - Orfeo Suite (3:15)
Toccato; Ritornello I; Choro II; Ritornello II; Choro II; Ritornello II
A3 Scarlatti - Sonata in G Major, L. 209/K. 455 (1:38)
A4 Scarlatti - Sonata in D Major, L. 164/K. 491 (3:50)
A5 Handel - Water Music
Allegro Deciso (2:57)
A6 Scarlatti - Sonata in E Major, L. 430/K. 531 (1:52)
A7 Scarlatti - Sonata in D Major, L. 465/K. 96 (2:25)
B1 J.S. Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049
I - Allegro (8:03)
II - Andante (3:30)
III - Presto (4:40)
B2 Monteverdi - Domnie Ad Adjuvandum, from 1610 Vespers (2:13)
Some 32 years before William Orbit released Pieces In A Modern Style, a relatively unknown composer and recording engineer and friend of Robert Moog put out an album of Bach numbers, played on one of Moog's synthesizers. Switched On Bach went on to sell nearly half a million copies, and The Well Tempered Synthesizer is the follow-up album. You should be able to get a good quality image of the sleevenotes from the thumbnail above, so that you can get more on the back-story.
Wendy Carlos's own site has plenty of background, especially on the more recent CD reissue, and the whole Walter/Wendy thing. You might know her work from such soundtracks as A Clockwork Orange and Tron.
Listening to the album now, some 40 years later, it's hard to work out what all the fuss was about. No doubt it was difficult to program the keyboards, no doubt there was extensive and time-consuming overdubbing... but still, with a copy of the score you could knock up the something very similar these days on a PC with some free software. This is not a review of the music, by the way, but the concept. Each selection is, though, a pretty boring choice of ubiquitous classical music, much in the same way little Billy Orbit's collection was.
This is what the future sounded like in 1969, which is itself the very definition of "damning with faint praise". It's not entirely without merit, but is more an historical artefact than genuinely pleasurable listen.
Get the unusual Sonic Seasonings instead, a double album of original compositions, with one side given over to each season. A major influence on all good electronic music recording artists.