Here's a collection of Bach pieces where the performances fit together exceptionally well. The basic sound is that of Canada's veteran Baroque ensemble Tafelmusik under violinist and director Jeanne Lamon: smooth, bright, French in its light seductiveness. Sample the almost accentless Rondeau from the Suite in A minor, a violin-and-strings transcription (and according to musicologist Joshua Rifkin a reconstruction of an original version) of the Suite in B minor for orchestra, BWV 1067; you couldn't call it gutsy, but the degree of control and consistency is impressive.
The young pianist who blew everyone away at the GRAMMYs recorded Bach's Goldberg Variations as label debut. The Korean-born, US-trained pianist known simply as Ji is very much a classical musician for the 21st century. Having won the New York Philharmonic’s Young Artists Competition at the age of just 10, he went on to study at the prestigious Juilliard School. Described by the Chicago Tribune as “a gifted, sensitive young pianist who is clearly going places,” he has chosen Bach’s sublime Goldberg Variations for his debut on Warner Classics. “Classical music is never going away,” he says, “We live in very modern world, and it’s our job to live in the moment, but it’s also our job to respect and preserve tradition.”
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).
After its successes in the field of German Baroque religious music, here VOX LUMINIS proposes the first complete recording of the motets by Johann Sebastian Bach's ancestors. These motets, most of which are written for double choir, blend the old tradition inherited from the polyphony of the Renaissance with expressive work inspired by the fashions of the madrigal. The chorale melodies that are quite frequently associated with these motets contribute this colour typical of the Lutheran liturgical repertoire.
This performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion is sung in English and played on modern instrument. If that bothers you, don't bother checking out this recording. If it doesn't bother you, and you like the idea of a heartrending, awe-inspiring, and profoundly moving performance of Bach's sacred dramatic masterpiece, by all means, try this recording. David Willcocks, the dean of English choral conductors, leads the combined forces of the Bach Choir, the Boys' Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Thames Chamber Orchestra along with six A-list British soloists in a deeply human, intensely spiritual, and amazingly dramatic performance of the work.