Karl Richter’s recordings of Bach’s orchestral and sacred music influenced an entire generation of musicians and listeners, presenting the conductor’s unique sound and style. When Richter recorded Bach’s works, he freed them from a ponderous tradition that had mired the music in romantic sounds and idiom. Richter lightened Bach’s music, and, with an orchestra of outstanding musicians, helped bring it toward the more modern interpretations that listeners have become familiar with today. This is still a bit far from the historically-informed performances that are pretty much the norm, but there is a unity and natural originality that comes through the music in these recordings.
The recipient of the 2012 City of Leipzig Bach Medal, Masaaki Suzuki has earned an enviable reputation as an interpreter of the music of J. S. Bach as a reviewer in Intl Record Guide has put it: 'With Suzuki you can hear Bach's heart beat'. To a wide audience he is known as the director of Bach Collegium Japan, and the moving force behind the ensemble's acclaimed recordings of Bach's complete sacred cantatas. Perhaps less well known is that he began his career at the age of 12! playing the organ at church services in Kobe, where he was born. Suzuki has remained true to the organ throughout his life, and for BIS he has previously recorded Bach's German Organ Mass, as well as programs of Buxtehude and Sweelinck. He here appears on a disc combining some of Bach's best-loved works for the instrument, including the D minor Toccata and Fugue, the Partitas on O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV 767, the Canonic Variations, BWV769, and the celebrated Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV548.
Growing up in his native Dublin in the 1850s and ‘60s, Stanford was no stranger to high-quality chamber music, even if the visits to Ireland’s capital by pre-eminent executants of the genre were sporadic. As a teenager he recalled with some affection and excitement the solo recitals of Anton Rubinstein, Sigismond Thalberg and Charles Hallé, and string players such as Camillo Sivori, Ludwig Straus, Henry Vieuxtemps, Alfredo Piatti and of course Joseph Joachim, a friend of his father. Hearing Joachim play Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata and unaccompanied Bach at semi-private concerts left a deep impression on Stanford (himself a budding violinist), as did Joachim’s appearances as the leader of Levey’s (his tutor’s) quartet. As a result of these formative experiences, Stanford became a devotee of chamber music.
'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.