Had Istomin been born thirty or forty years earlier, he would have performed much more Bach. He began his recording career in 1945, when he was not yet twenty, with Bach’s Concerto in D minor BWV 1052 under Adolf Busch. In 1950, he took part in the Prades Festival which celebrated the 200th anniversary of Bach’s death and recorded the Toccata in E minor BWV 914, the Partita in C minor BWV 826 (which he refused to release), the Trio Sonata BWV 1038 and the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto under Casals. In his early recitals, even at Carnegie Hall, he used to start with a couple of preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier. .
Unfortunately, the harpsichord was making an unexpected comeback in the musical world, with Wanda Landowska and later, Ralph Kirkpatrick as the leading figures. For the critics and purists, playing Bach on the piano became increasingly controversial from the late 40s. Glenn Gould was an exception, but Istomin could not imagine adopting such a restriction of the expressive capacities of the piano. He thus refrained from performing any more Bach, except on very rare occasions when he played the concertos for two or three pianos with Serkin, Horszowski or Pommier. The only work he continued to play was the Toccata BWV 914. Nevertheless, his love for Bach remained, and when he ended his career, he placed the Well-Tempered Clavier on the music rest of his piano every day.