Listeners familiar with any of Masaaki Suzuki's many Bach recordings for BIS are likely to know what to expect from his recording of the Well-Tempered Klavier Book II: immaculate playing, impeccable taste, and immediate sound. Perhaps best-known internationally for his series of recordings of Bach's cantatas and other sacred works, Suzuki started his career as a superlative keyboard player, and as his performance here on the harpsichord demonstrates, he has kept his skills well-honed.
While one might reasonably prefer this, that or the other recording of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations, one should still take the time to listen to this 1997 recording of the work played on the harpsichord by Masaaki Suzuki on BIS. For one thing, Suzuki is the conductor of BIS' series of Bach Cantata recordings and it is interesting to hear what he can do on his own without other musicians as intermediaries.
Following his magnificent recording of J.S. Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias for BIS last year, the Japanese harpsichordist/organist/conductor Masaaki Suzuki here offers more revelatory performances of some of Bach's equally well known (as well as some lesser known) masterpieces. With this collection, simply titled Fantasias & Fugues, Suzuki provides a grand overview of Bach's lifelong sporadic exploration of the Fantasia genre.
Listeners familiar with other recordings in Masaaki Suzuki's ongoing traversal of Bach's solo keyboard works may find his performances of the Partitas somewhat of an anomaly. For instance, the sharply delineated juxtapositions of tempos that made his Fantasias and Fugues program so thrilling (type Q3840 in Search Reviews) are nowhere to be heard here. The interpretive agenda this time is much subtler and decidedly more introverted.
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.
Strong but delicate, deliberate but subtle, driven but supple, Masaaki Suzuki's 2005 recording of Bach's Italian Concerto and French Overture for harpsichord are quite convincing in their own distinctive way. In Suzuki's hands, the opening crash of the Italian Concerto is as instantly arresting as the powerful opening prelude and fugue from the French Overture is immediately appealing.
It is 22 years since Savall and Koopman first recorded the Bach gamba sonatas, in the days when Koopman still looked like he should have been presenting The Old Grey Whistle Test. This release for Savall's own Alia Vox label, however, is right up to date, a tame-haired Koopman and an amazingly unaltered Savall having set them down at the beginning of this year. The recording's quick turnaround is a fitting reflection of the state of the musical relationship that has obtained between these two ever since they first performed together in 1970 after only half an hour's rehearsal. Make no mistake, these Bach performances are right in the slot.
The Ensemble Pygmalion directed by Raphaël Pichon commences its collaboration with Harmonia Mundi with this new recording of J.S. Bach’s lost music to the Köthener Trauermusik (Cöthen funeral music), BWV 244a. Founded in 2006 at the European Bach Festival, Ensemble Pygmalion is a combination of choir and orchestra - all young performers with experience of authentic instruments and period-informed performance. Its repertoire concentrates primarily on Johann Sebastian Bach and Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Johann Sebastian Bach played the violin “cleanly and with a penetrating tone…” At the time his son CPE Bach wrote this phrase to a musicologist and Bach’s early biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel in 1774, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin were known to a relatively small but steadily growing circle of enthusiasts. Although the demand problem was eventually solved by the appearance of the first printed editions around the turn of the century, it took another five decades before Bach’s sonatas and partitas came to the attention of a broader public. Arrangements of the violin solos for other instruments offer new expressive opportunities. For this album, Florian Klaus Rumpf has transcribed and recorded the first three of the six violin solos for the mandolin. Florian Klaus Rumpf decided to begin studying mandolin at the age of seven. In 2006 Florian entered the University of Music and Dance in Wuppertal, where he studied the modern mandolin and a wide range of historical instruments, including the six-course Baroque mandolin and the 8-course mandolone. He is in high demand as a soloist, tutor, and conductor of mandolin orchestras.
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.