Dedicated to the Margrave of Brandenburg, J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are timeless works of art - their variety of styles and instrumental combinations reveal inspiration of the highest order. Karl Richter's Brandenburg Concertos are perfectly paced, clear textured and undeniably stylish. There's a level of sophistication in this performance which few recordings are able to equal. The Munchener Bach-Orchester has a sound that is in the German tradition and thoroughly idiomatic.
Although J.S. Bach's orchestral music has been transcribed for guitar ensemble before, notably selected Brandenburg Concertos by the De Falla Trio and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, this is the first recording of the four suites for orchestra that I have heard in a setting of this type; it is not a source of material that readily springs to mind for such treatment and certainly purists would decry such practices.
Leading early music expert Winsome Evans presents the final chapter in her ground-breaking project to transcribe and record Bach’s solo instrumental works for the harpsichord, with the Six Cello Suites and Partita for Solo Flute. Evans’ project, some 30 years in the making, is based on evidence that Bach himself played his solo instrumental works on the keyboard – including the statement of a former student that Bach often played the solo violin and cello works ‘on the clavier, adding as much in the nature of harmony as he found necessary’. The harmonies added by Evans to the solo works are inspired by methods from Bach’s own time.
The very short list of credits on this Warner Classics release includes Russian American cellist Nina Kotova and producer Adam Abeshouse, who delivers a very closely miked sound in the frequently used Performing Arts Recital Hall of Purchase College on Long Island, New York. But perhaps the uncredited star on this set of Bach's Six Suites for solo cello is Kotova's 1679 Stradivarius instrument, which Kotova exploits to the maximum. Her reading is one of those in the line coming down from Pablo Casals, with a high degree of expressiveness generated through variations in tempo and articulation. Hear any of the concluding gigues, which come off like late Romantic witches' dances, for an example, or the increasingly unexpected relationships among the Gavotte sections in the Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 (CD 2, track 17).