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.
Here, again, Brilliant Classics has licensed recordings of the passions, masses and other works. The St. Matthew and St. John passions are good recordings by the Brandenburg Consort and the King's College Choir; I find these two passions to be a bit weak, and this is a shame.
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.
The C minor Passacaglia and Fugue is one of the great masterpieces for the instrument and one which inspired countless responses from composers great and lesser. So it's all the more astonishing to think that Bach wrote it while still a twenty‐something hireling in Weimar, where his Kapell meistership to the Duke ended badly with the composer being clapped in irons for touting his availability for other jobs, frustrated as his ambition was by the restrictions of the position.
Brilliant composer and organist Johann Sebastian Bach completes the long journey from his home in Leipzig to Potsdam.
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”.
Three double concertos for harpsichord by Bach survive, all dating from around 1736, and all arrangements of earlier compositions. BWV 1060 is thought to have originated as a now lost double concerto for oboe and violin, while BWV 1062 is a reworking of the well-loved concerto for two violins. Unlike these two works, BWV 1061 was composed for two harpsichords from the outset, but probably started out as a concerto without orchestral accompaniment – this will have been added later. Performing these works, with a quintet of string players from the Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki is joined by his son Masato. For the present disc Masato Suzuki has also taken a page from Bach’s own book, in arranging the composer’s Orchestral Suite No.1 for two unaccompanied harpsichords.
Most of us come to the Saint John Passion knowing the Saint Matthew Passion first. The bigger and more elaborate Saint Matthew, which came along three, or possibly five years later (there is controversy about the date), has tended to cast a shadow in which the earlier work is swallowed up, and this has been so ever since Mendelssohn's Saint Matthew performance in 1829 marked the beginning of the public rediscovery of J.S. Bach. (The professionals had never forgotten.) But if the Saint John is smaller in scale than the Saint Matthew, it is hardly the lesser work in quality, though it would of course be silly to claim that the master of the Saint Matthew Passion had not learned from the experience of setting Saint John. But the most interesting differences between these two towering attestations of faith are differences in intention. Read Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, and John 18-19, and you get four tellings of the last days in the life of Jesus that differ in tone, emphasis, and detail…