In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent…. By Santa Fe Listener
He was born in 's-Graveland, North Holland and studied organ and harpsichord from 1947 to 1950 with Eduard Müller at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel. In 1950, he made his debut as a harpsichordist in Vienna, where he studied musicology. He was professor of harpsichord at the Academy of Music from 1952 to 1955 and at the Amsterdam Conservatory from 1954. He was also a church organist.wiki
Kuijken was born in Dilbeek, near Brussels. He was a member of the Alarius Ensemble of Brussels between 1964 and 1972 and formed La Petite Bande in 1972. Since 1971 he has taught Baroque violin at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels. He is noted for using the older technique of resting the violin on the shoulder without a shoulder rest, rather than held under the chin. He is a member of the Kuijken String Quartet, which he formed in 1986. In recent years, he has also performed as conductor of symphonies of the Romantic era…wiki
Julian Bream is, without a doubt, one of the premiere classical guitarists of the modern recording era. Comparisons between great guitarists is often unfair and misleading as they each have their own styles - and each musician and his/her style tends to be particularly well suited to certain types of music. For example, Andres Segovia's style, cultivated by self-teaching throughout his now ended life, concentrated on flowing legatto smoothness and flowing melodies. Bream's, on the other hand, while equally masterful, is better characterized as emphasizing the precision and crispness of each and every individual note. What better composer to focus on to show this particular proclivity that J. S. Bach, whose work, having been written largely for the keyboards (harpsichord) but also for the lute and triple harp, tends to emphasize the kinds of music Bream excels at. Stacatto phrasings, each written to be played with crystalline exactness, are the types of pieces wherein Bream's magnificence is conspicuous and best showcased. Thus, the special relevance of this particular compilation of some of his best Bach work on this CD.
The C minor Passacaglia and Fugue is one of the great masterpieces for the instrument and one which inspired countless responses from composers great and lesser. So it's all the more astonishing to think that Bach wrote it while still a twenty‐something hireling in Weimar, where his Kapell meistership to the Duke ended badly with the composer being clapped in irons for touting his availability for other jobs, frustrated as his ambition was by the restrictions of the position.