Under the Antoine Marchand (that's Ton Koopman in French, or Anthony Merchant in English) imprint of the Challenge Classics label, Dutch early music veteran Ton Koopman recording the large corpus of surviving works by Dietrich Buxtehude, inspired by the tercentary of the composer's death in 1707. All initial indications are that few other musicians could have done this at all, and probably no one could have done it as well.
Lars Ulrik Mortensen is best known as a harpsichordist active largely in Baroque solo and chamber music repertory. But his career is quite multifaceted: he has regularly conducted both instrumental and operatic works and has taught harpsichord and historic performance practices at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich. He has often appeared in concert as accompanist to singer Emma Kirkby and has regularly partnered violinist John Holloway and cellist Jaap ter Linden.
Those who've heard Masaaki Suzuki's patient, reflective journey through Bach's Partitas will find similar traits in his recordings of the French Suites. At first the breathing spaces and tiny caesuras in the Allemandes and Sarabandes strike a precious pose. Listen again, though, and you realize that Suzuki is phrasing from a singer's perspective, undoubtedly influenced by his experience conducting the Bach Passions and Cantatas.
It's hard to believe this CD was done with only a violin, viola da gama and harpsichord. This is polyphonic music at its finest. It does tribute to Buxtehude, who preceded Bach. The ensemble is perfect - the instruments complement each other. When they go from slow to fast, it is remarkable to hear the contrast. These are expert musicians with a complete mastery of their instruments. They use loud-soft as easily as any masters of the Baroque. The result is joyous, lively and entertaining.
I've been listening to Brandenburgs non-stop for the past three weeks, for some reason. I love the Ristenpart recording, and I like the Britten version even better in some ways. This Baumgartner recording has a certain elegance. The pace is a tad slower and the ambience a bit thicker. The second movement of the first Brandenburg hits that emotional place a bit better than in the Britten version. I would be hard pressed to say which I prefer overall, but on first listening I sure loved this recording.