'Testament' is Rachel Barton Pine's very personal homage to the music of J. S. Bach, on which she performs the composer's complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin in the acoustic of her hometown St. Pauls Church in Chicago, where she first heard and fell in love with Bach's music.
This is a really great five-CD set. You get all of Bach's concertos except the Brandenburgs - which is a shame because Pinnock's Brandenburgs are terrific. Nonetheless, this remains an absolutely cracking collection of some of Bach's most enjoyable music in excellent performances. In the Harpsichord Concertos Pinnock is himself the soloist and shows why he is such a very well-liked and highly regarded musician. The music springs to life under his fingers (and under his direction) and many of these performances set new and enduring standards when first released in the early 1980s. They have informed much subsequent Bach playing and have worn extremely well themselves, sounding as fresh and involving as they did nearly 30 years ago. He is joined by other fine harpsichordists in the concerti for two, three and four harpsichords, (Kenneth Gilbert, Nicholas Kraemer and Lars Ulrich Mortensen) and the Concerto for Four Harpsichords in particular is an absolute joy.
Overshadowed by his father, Johann Sebastian, and his brothers Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian, the music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach provides a bridge between the high art of the first and expressive tendencies of Sturm und Drang. His Harpsichord Concertos, as performed here by Maude Gratton [of the Ricercar Consort] and Il Convito, offer a very successful synthesis of these two trends.
The Complete works of J.S. Bach on 160 CDs at a super bargain price. The CDs are packaged in paper sleeves in a glossy cardboard box, and the notes and text are included as PDF files on an additional CD Rom disc. Almost entirely original instrument performances, all 60 hours of the Sacred Cantatas are new recordings for this edition (a story in itself), the first complete set of digital recordings in fact.
A star of Janine Jansen's status and influence could have a major orchestra accompany her in Bach's violin concertos, but she chooses instead to keep her hand-picked ensemble small and intimate, and enjoys the camaraderie of a chamber group. Indeed, the assembly of friends who join Jansen in the Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042; Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041; and Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor, BWV 1060, number no more than 12 players, and includes her brother Maarten Jansen on cello and her father, Jan Jansen, on harpsichord, as well as her touring colleague, oboist Ramón Ortega Quero. Such familiarity yields music of considerable verve and spontaneity, and wherever Jansen leads her musicians, they are quick to follow.
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.