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.
Composer: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
Performer: Claudio Astronio, Marco Facchin
Conductor: Claudio Astronio
Orchestra/Ensemble: Harmonices Mundi String Ensemble
Only months after Deutsche Grammophon released Anne-Sophie Mutter's recording of Bach's violin concertos, Decca released Julia Fischer's recording of the same pieces. The similarities between the two discs run deeper than merely their shared repertoire. Both labels are branches of Universal Music Group and both violinists are individualistic German women, though Mutter is currently at the peak of her career while Fischer is just a bit past starting out. The differences, however, are likewise remarkable. The Deutsche Grammophon disc includes the world premiere of a new work by Sofia Gubaidulina dedicated to the violinist, while the Decca disc includes the more conventional coupling of Bach's Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor, BWV 1060.
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.