With The All-Baroque Box we realize one of our fondest dreams: harnessing the deep catalogue of Archiv Produktion (supplemented on occasion by Decca L oiseau lyre recordings) to create a comprehensive collection of great music from Monteverdi to Bach. The music ranges from huge Baroque (Missa Salisburgensis, Venetian polychoral, Charpentier Te Deum) to intimate Baroque (the Goldberg Variations, Bach cello suites, solo cantatas) overwhelming in its impact and emotional content.
One of the many delights coming from Frans Brüggen’s distinguished career has been the understanding which he brings to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach – such as here with the St. John Passion – whether on the concert platform or on record. Brüggen’s cultured feeling for Bach’s musical structures as much as for its style and expressive content permits a textural clarity enjoyed by few of his directing colleagues. A special wealth of experience in the music of Bach has also been gained by the members of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century across the three decades of its existence and as part of its regular concert series (there have now been over a hundred of these tours!) and with a concentrated opportunity to focus on one work, Bach’s masterpiece was performed and recorded in Spring 2010.
Fifteen years after his recording of Bach’s three Sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord (on hm, with Rinaldo Alessandrini), Paolo Pandolfo returns to this repertoire a new approach: the fruit of active and concentrated years of consideration, study and research into the inherent possibilities of his instrument. Given the basic differing natures of these two instruments, the performance of these works very often turns – in Pandolfo’s words – into a “musical argument”, rather than what is demanded by the music’s essential nature: a “musical conversation” in which the score achieves “transparency and eloquence”.
Raaf Hekkema: Since I started teaching at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, I have become more conscious of my self-chosen mission: to create a place for the saxophone within the classical music tradition. One way to do this is to forge a stronger bond between the players and the classical tradition, in the knowledge that the saxophone repertoire too is indebted to the great composers of the past. The most influential of them all is, without a doubt, Johann Sebastian Bach.
BBC New Generation Artist Beatrice Rana sets her sights on Bach in this dignified reading of the Goldberg Variations. Treating every ornamentation and run with stately regard, Rana delivers a deep, meditative interpretation. Its closing “Aria” sounds so delicate that it feels at risk of floating away.
Thomas Dunford continues to expand his discography on Alpha with a programme of solo lute works by J.S. Bach, recorded in the ideal surroundings of the Salle de Musique of La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. He performs an original composition by Bach for lute, the Suite in G minor BWV 995, as well as his own arrangements of the (Cello) Suite BWV 1007 and the famous Chaconne from the Partita BWV 1004 – the latter piece has a notorious reputation for being (virtually) unplayable, at least on the violin!
Transcribing compositions was a common practice in the Baroque era, and Johann Sebastian Bach frequently recycled his own music, perhaps most famously in his versions for lute. This 2017 Linn release by lutenist William Carter offers meticulous performances of the Sonata in G minor, BWV 1001, and the Suite in E major, BWV 1006a, both adapted from the original versions for unaccompanied violin, and the Suite in G minor, BWV 995, arranged from the Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011, for unaccompanied cello.
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.