What’s unusual here is the melding of two different types of keyboard, one sharply transient, the other ductile; and just how their functions dovetail with one another may be heard in the slow movement of the Brandenburg Concerto No 5. Faust’s playing is technically brilliant, yet always at the service of the music, and everywhere enlivened by a richly varied repertoire of interpretative details, from spontaneous twiddle-ornaments to little tempo-tugs or deftly elongated notes within a phrase. While all four of Bach’s have a kind of courtly nobility beyond that they range enormously: from the gracious sequence of dances in the First; via the catchy ‘Badinerie’ for flute that ends the Second; to the trumpets-and-drums opening of the Third; and finally the heady grandeur of the Fourth, easily one of the best Bach works, rivalling Handel’s most opulent creations in terms of pure pomp. This edition of the chorales of Johann Sebastian Bach is designed to provide musicians with a version of these masterpieces that is the easiest to read, study, and use. A word should go, too, to Xenia Löffler, whose liquid-gold oboe-playing is a perfect foil for Faust’s busy violin in BWV1060 and a perfect match for its aching beauty of the Sinfonia from Cantata No 21. Soloist-conducted piano concertos can sometimes mean compromise, even chaos…but not in this case. All this would count for little were we not able to hear him in such beautifully immediate sound. chorale, though other sources were regularly consulted. No danger here of the final chorus ending in a morose slough of despond. The G minor Mass represents a clever juxtaposition of conceits with the Magnificat, as Bach revisits choice cantata movements (from BWV72, 102 and 187) and parodies them so successfully – whatever past curmudgeons say – that this lesser-known example from the four so-called “Lutheran Masses” reminds us what they can communicate so specially with such a finely blended and integrated ensemble as the Ricercar Ensemble. The bass lines drive the music forwards, the crowd scenes declaim with quicksilver interpolations to the Evangelist’s cries and tempos are allowed to push and pull at key moments. But this is also music of great poetry, and, without straining unduly to make their points, Podger and Pinnock bring this out superbly; Pinnock’s harpsichord is gently resonant and softly voiced, and Podger coaxes a lyrical flexibility out of her violin, its singing qualities enhanced thanks to a restrained but tellingly sweetening use of vibrato – one which also enables her to play more consistently and blessedly in tune than almost any other baroque fiddler currently in business. True, some may question her way with the Courante from the Second English Suite, finding it hard-driven, even overbearing, yet Argerich’s eloquence in the following sublime Sarabande creates its own hypnotic authority. The final track is a stunning performance of the C major's closing Allegro assai which would bring any audience to its feet. As you would imagine, surprises abound – some of which take a little getting used to. To me they work precisely because he teases so much out of each line. This is not, by the way, a polite way of saying that the performance lacks expressive variety or that performing standards are modest. It is difficult to single out details of this recording for comment; there just seems to be such a tremendous feeling of overall ‘rightness’ to it. “Suscepit Israel” is the highlight, however: a bittersweet Carissimi-like trio (perhaps more Scarlatti Stabat mater in supplication?) Her C major Prelude unassumingly unfolds at a moderate pace, resonating less like a piano than a murmuring organ, while the C major Fugue sounds like a madrigal featuring four distinct yet unified voices with prodigious breath control. I hope that will not become the fate of this remarkable release. Level. No_Favorite. To embark on a second recording of the St Matthew Passion 20 or so years after an admired reading with many of the same musicians from Bach Collegium Japan might, one would imagine, have been governed by a specific set of motivations. Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March 1685 – … Donald Francis Tovey observes:Counterpoint, the art defined by Sir Fr e deric kGor eOusele yasthat of ’combining melodies’. And yet Perahia’s Bach has plenty going on: you attend to one layer of counterpoint, then return for another and so on, discovering something new each time. Listen to the best of Bach on Apple Music and Spotify and scroll down to explore our selection of the 10 best Bach works. Yet no music is more demanding to realise in sound, nor quicker to reveal inadequacies of perception. It is closely recorded in a church acoustic to give a brilliant tone with added depth. The great unfinished fugue is especially fascinating, gradually accumulating kinesis until the surge of B-A-C-H pulls us towards its unattained apotheosis with the force of the Severn Bore. In the sonatas she shows other sterling qualities. With each SACD coming in at over 80 minutes, it is squeezed on to two discs, offering excellent value. Preference will come down to personal taste. And how nice to hear the warming tone of a theorbo (bass lute) in the E major Concerto’s central Siciliano, a beautiful performance, more ornamental than cantorial, in keeping with the more decorative nature of the music. The two make a fine match. I go to a musician like the violinist Rachel Podger, or the pianist Angela Hewitt. This is followed by one of the most extraordinary readings of the Sarabande I’ve ever heard. Generic early music politesse is relegated to the shadows. In truth, all the recent recordings of these sonatas have had their merits. At the double bar, before the section repeat and before embarking on the second section, we get the slightest of hesitations, Perahia pausing just long enough to let the music breathe. Consequently, you could learn to make a well working harmonisation af a melody, by adding three notes to the soprano voice, and with a couple … The E minor Prelude and Fugue is the greatest tour de force here, and arguably Bach’s most ambitious single creation on the organ. Perhaps the best-known and best-loved of Bach's cantatas are Wachet auf and Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (the latter containing the time-honoured chorale often performed in English as 'Jesu, joy of man's desiring'). Rob Cowan (May 2001), Angela Hewitt pf Australian Chamber Orchestra / Richard Tognetti. And with conviction. Magnificent, Supreme! Here are ten of the best Bach works of all time featuring the composer’s incredible range. Granite-like blocks of intensely chiselled harmonic progressions starting at 2'38" and building to the last at 5'48" are studiously laid down, as if for posterity, and yet there’s an underlying immediacy and restlessness in Suzuki’s rhetoric which leads to thrillingly choppy waters in the Fugue. The new recording for the Monteverdi Choir’s own label is a live concert recording, with all the soloists except the Evangelist and Christus drawn from the ranks of the chorus. We’re always aware of the re entry of a fugue subject, for instance, as it peeks through the texture in different registers or reappears stood on its head, yet it’s never exaggerated as is sometimes the tendency with less imaginative pianists. This is a glorious disc. There is, however, another unique layer to this St John, for the piece is set in the context of the Good Friday Vespers liturgy of Bach’s Leipzig. The suites have daunted players and delighted audiences ever since. And Pobłocka’s soaring alla breve reading of the B minor Prelude differs from the measured tread of, say Daniel Barenboim or Edward Aldwell. This contrasts with the energetic outer movements in which the two players brilliantly spark off each other. Jed Distler (March 2019). The galant character adopted by Butt’s elegant harpsichord continuo, Patrick Beaugiraud’s poignant oboe and tasteful strings during “Qui sedes” proceeds without pause into “Quoniam”; Anneke Scott’s sparky horn playing and Matthew Brook’s conversational authority conspire to take no prisoners, and the momentum carries through into a knock-out “Cum Sancto Spiritu”. Fournier can sparkle too, as he does in many of the faster dance-orientated movements such as courantes, gavottes, bourrees and so on; in the sarabandes, on the other hand, he invariably strikes a note of grandeur coupled with a concentration amounting at times – as in the sarabandes of Suites Nos. The recording was made in Pisa Cathedral last September, but its foundations were laid over the previous six months in a 15-city tour which included a memorable performance in Brussels the day after the terror attacks there. The Pastorale, with its exquisite musette-like opening, whose subsequent C major movement trips along in a manner organists seem universally reluctant to pursue, is simply a pearl. If the listener is often left gasping, this is caused not only by vocal singularity of purpose but by the discreet and graphic responsiveness of the instrumental continuo players, among whom the bassoon here (and in Komm, Jesu, komm) contributes with knowing effect. A famous response to Gieseking’s playing as being “like Monet in Giverny” was made with reference to his legendary Debussy performances. Levit doesn’t disappoint. That was possibly his most original contribution to the suite of his time: there’s a Praeludium in No 1, a three-part Sinfonia in No 2, a French Overture in No 4 (the D major), a Praeambulum in No 5 and a grand Toccata and Fugue in No 6 (E minor). Here you will search in vain for the sort of muddles or confusions that would sometimes plague his performances (evidence of his proud boast that he did little practice). Ewa Pobłocka’s name first came to my attention back in 1980, when she tied for fifth place in that year’s Warsaw International Chopin Competition, and Deutsche Grammophon issued a selection of her performances from that event on a bygone LP. The most problematic ‘transcription’ here is the A major (BWV1055), a work that has confounded scholars as to its true provenance, not least owing to its low register and figuration that seems almost deliberately unidiomatic. Noté /5. Tess Knighton (May 2001). But the extraordinarily resonant sound he makes is probably less to do with the instruments than with the playing itself, which is warm, expansive, generous and friendly. Thus there’s a palpable delight in the rhythmically ungainly theme from which the Gigue of the First Suite is fashioned and Anderszewski’s way with Bach’s counterpoint is at once strong-jawed and supple. This might seem a time-honoured ambition and yet, for all the admirable qualities of, say, the RIAS Kammerchor under René Jacobs or the more recent reading from Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent, neither of these brings as ambitious a kaleidoscopic challenge to the listener in identifying renewed character and meaning as Gardiner aspires to. How lucidly Der Geist hilft (that short but compact work written for the funeral of Ernesti, the old Rector of St Thomas’s, in 1729) sets out to reflect the infirmities of man gradually imbued with the intercessions of the Holy Spirit. We then get another dash of cold water in the C minor Prelude and Fugue from Book 1. Forget it. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (May 2013), Sols; Concentus Musicus Wien & Arnold Schoenberg Choir / Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Preview. But if you haven’t come across him before I can report that he’s of Russian-German descent (shades of Sviatoslav Richter) and is 27 this year. The G sharp minor Prelude is a particularly inspired example of Pobłocka’s controlled freedom and imaginative voicings. 32. He brings considerable character to the theme of the Aria variata, tending to choose faster tempos than Angela Hewitt (Hyperion, 10/04), to thrilling effect in Variations 2, 7 and 9, while Var 6 has a limpid beauty. Lindsay Kemp (August 2000), The reissue of Martha Argerich’s recordings, their reappearance in this or that format, testifies to the unique and enduring nature of her magisterial temperament and musicianship. If ever part of a major composer’s work needed rediscovering it’s the Bach cantatas – we really know too few of them. Apart from a couple of underwhelming movements (‘Können Tränen’ is not vocally settled), the vast majority of arias represent the highest quality of Bach-singing. As soloist, Perahia is his usual stylish, discreet and pianistically refined self. So we leap from the dizzying heights of the outlandishly difficult trumpet-writing that colours the second Brandenburg Concerto, to No.6, which gets its dark shades from the lack of violins. 2000 saw Universal Music's worldwide release of BL! William Yeoman (January 2011). There is plenty of room for the music student to write in their own notes and analysis. Bach puts the theme through myriad permutations of mood and speed, and when the theme returns unadorned at the end, the sense of a momentous journey is complete. Perahia’s pacing is unerring throughout, and even if you tend to favour this movement slower, that one faster, the sense of narrative that he brings to these suites as a whole is utterly persuasive. Elsewhere, he is very much his own man, intensifying his tone for rising sequences (at around 5'06) or softening it to the most rarefied murmur (as from 4'54 into the third movement). And it all flows effortlessly – though I’m sure the journey has been anything but that. Lindsay Kemp (April 2017). Gardiner challenges orthodoxy in how these a cappella holy grails are fundamentally signposted and he does so, almost always, with persuasive passion and genuine zeal. share. We have also included, where possible, the complete original Gramophone reviews, which are drawn from Gramophone's Reviews Database of more than 40,000 reviews. Where other practitioners offer regular accents and a perhaps over-cautious traversal, tethered to the notes, Levit never fails to project a commanding overview – an aerial perspective, almost – in addition to the detail of phrasing and articulations and the nooks and crannies of melodic lines. The aching ‘Erbarme dich’ of alto Eleanor Minney and violinist Kati Debretzeni expresses it perfectly, assuming the pain further unto itself in a barely breathed da capo, like a wounded bird. There is, if you care to rationalise, a Russian depth of sound and eloquence of phrasing, tempered by Germanic intellectual grasp. Only a rather cut-up performance (for my taste) of the Loure stops this being one of the most enjoyable E major Partitas I can remember. From the profound contemplative quality of the G major Sarabande or the C minor Allemande to the zest of the C major Bourree, the breadth and grandeur of the D minor Suite's Prelude and the gravity of its Sarabande, the lightness of the E flat Allemande and Bourrees or the C minor Gavotte, the raptness of the C minor Sarabande, and the lucidity of thought behind the elaborate D major Allemande, these performances remain the classic yardstick by which all later ones must be judged.The digitally remastered transfers from the original 78s, yielding an astonishingly clean ambience to the cello, represent another technical triumph for Keith Hardwick; but listeners with acute ears will notice that the Courante of the E flat Suite and the Gavotte of the C minor were recorded at a slightly sharper pitch than the movements preceding them. This recording’s most recent period rival, that of Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr, shows a typical wealth of new ideas and inspired moves but is less satisfying as a whole, and suffers from some intonationally hairy moments and a less precisely pointed sound. Both recordings include the two Sonatas for Violin and Continuo, BWV1021 and 1023 (for which Podger and Pinnock are joined by a discreet and sympathetic Jonathan Manson on viola da gamba), but Manze and Egarr’s inclusion of the dubious BWV1024 is not echoed here; instead we get two of the three versions of BWV1019 whole, with the glorious extra movement required to make up the remaining version added at the end. Jed Distler (September 2009). In Concerto No 2 the concertante quartet of David Blackadder (trumpet), Pamela Thorby (recorder), Alexandra Bellamy (oboe) and Cecilia Bernardini (violin) play with an airy fluidity, with graceful natural trumpet leaving room for recorder and oboe in the limelight. The best is as good as anyone anywhere – and the whole, of the six complete cantata sets, probably the most consistent. Butt’s flowing tempo for “Agnus Dei” prevents Margot Oitzinger from conveying the breathtaking timelessness some might hanker after but catharsis is tangible in “Benedictus” (performed movingly by Hobbs and flautist Katy Bircher). The close, with its ingeniously compressed lines and the composer’s outrageous sign-off, literally spelling his name (B is B flat and H is B natural), is celebrated in some style by Suzuki. She nails her colours firmly to the mast in her printed introductory note (which follows an uncommonly perceptive and informative commentary on the music by Mark Audus): her aim, she says, is a characteristically bright and sweet seventeenth-century timbre, and she declares herself less interested in the virtuoso aspect of the music, more in the “interior spirituality of the sonatas and the gracious elegance of the partitas”. Inexorable momentum here is born of fervent authority, a virtuosity of combined effects without gratuitous excess. Some take the buoyant Gigue of the Fifth Suite at a more headlong pace, yet Perahia’s feels just so: the rhythms are bright and springy, full of energy without freneticism, and joy is palpable in every note. Certainly he can muster all the athleticism, velocity and finesse of a competition winner ready to burst on to the international scene. ‘Practise some Bach for me,’ Chopin used to say to his departing pupils as they went through the door. This meant they had to be performable without much rehearsal; so either the congregation endured some pretty ropey playing, or Bach’s musicians were out of the ordinary, as they’re far from easy. Goldbergian to take the structural route and her EMI/Philips set remains among the over-50s inspired musicianship previously polarised performing. 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