Fitting her reputation for interpreting the keyboard repertoire in a big way, Hélène Grimaud presents her first recording of J.S. Bach's works with transcriptions by Ferruccio Busoni, Franz Liszt, and Sergei Rachmaninov, which were all intended to update the music for the modern grand piano. Because Grimaud's style is direct and robust, reminiscent of Martha Argerich, and the transcriptions are dramatically more pianistic than the originals, Bach purists should look elsewhere for more meticulous and historically informed performances of these Baroque pieces, perhaps on fortepiano or harpsichord.
This box set gathers together Karl Richter's stereo recordings of Bach's choral works that were recorded between 1959-1969. Missing is his final, digital St Matt, the 1961 Mass in B Minor (the 1969 "from Japan" recording is included) and an earlier mono Christmas Oratorio (available on Teldec CDs).
Helmuth Rilling is an excellent conductor and interpreter of Bach's sacred music. Recorded from 1969 to 1985, over a longer period of time than most other sets, there is a lot of change throughout the series. Rilling's recordings are more dense and lush than others, and his tempi are often slower than HIP recordings - no "original instruments" for Rilling. But he creates such a detailed sound-world that any fan of these works should want to hear Rilling's versions to compare with others. This said, Rilling often uses a technique that I find a bit disturbing. He'll have one instrument or group of instruments sequestered to one track, and others on the other track, giving a sound similar to that of early Beatles' stereo mixes, where vocals were on one track and instruments on the other. This is something you never hear in live performance; while one instrument may be on one side, you still hear it on the other side. This tends to make some of the movements sound as though there's no blend among the singers and musicians.(Kirk McElhearn)
The appetite for evolving performance practices in Bach’s St Matthew Passion appears undiminished as we have gradually shifted, over the generations, from larger to smaller ensembles and also towards a greater dramatic understanding of the implications of Bach’s ambitious ‘stereophonic’ double choir and orchestra choreography.
Here, again, Brilliant Classics has licensed recordings of the passions, masses and other works. The St. Matthew and St. John passions are good recordings by the Brandenburg Consort and the King's College Choir; I find these two passions to be a bit weak, and this is a shame.