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. The choir, which is fairly large at 26 singers whereas some recordings in recent years have used much smaller groups is nevertheless of a size that allows the individual voices to stand out in the choral melange.
The instrumentalists also play in perfect balance with the choir - the obbligato instruments fit perfectly with the vocal texture, and the overall sound of the orchestra is excellent. Among the other vocal works - a total of 37 CDs - are some interesting works which are not recorded often: a collection of chorales, based on hymns, and Bach's "sacred songs".
Most Bach lovers are unfamiliar with these works, which, while not being masterpieces, are fine music. Naturally, Brilliant Classics could not afford to get the best baroque performers - this is a super budget set - but one thing that the listener discovers in this set is that there are many fine, even excellent "second tier" performers of Bach's music.
Many of the instrumental ensembles whose recordings are in this set are excellent. The Consort of London, for example, is a pleasant surprise. They perform the Brandenburg Concertos and the Orchestral Suites, Harry Christophers - Sacred Choral Music By William Mundy (CD. Their The Secret Sins - William Mundy set is an excellent performance of these concertos; the tempi are excellent; this is no staid, boring performance, as is too often the case, where the concertos are played far too slowly as though they are monuments rather than living music.
The musicians here have found the right rhythms and give these pieces energy and emotion. The Orchestral Suites come across with the same vigor and energy, and these two sets of orchestral music are, in my opinion, among the best available on disc.
Bach's "chamber music" includes a variety of works, from sonatas for violin and harpsichord to trio sonatas, from flute pieces to sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord. The performance of the violin sonatas sparkles, with the musicians, Monica Huggett on violin, Sarah Cunningham on viol, and Mitze Meyerson on harpsichord, clearly enjoying every second of this music. The two trio sonatas on the same CD, played by the Ensemble Il Quadrifoglio and the Bach Ensemble Heidelberg, are good recordings, but nothing special.
Some of Bach's finest music is for solo instruments other than the keyboard. His suites for solo cello, his sonatas and partitas for solo violin, and his lute works are among the most poignant and moving music he wrote.
The recording of the cello suits, by Robert Cohen, is a magnificent version of these amazing works. He these suites at relatively slow tempi, and plays all repeats. His reading of these works is highly personal, and his flexibility concerning tempi can be a bit disturbing at first - in some movements he plays the repeats much slower than the first expositions.
Nevertheless, this gives this version a unique individuality that many other cellists lack. Cohen plays the music without showing off; it is clear that he is interested in the inner music that lies under the surface of these works. The lute works are an excellent recording by Jakob Lindberg, recorded for Bis.
He is a fine performer, and his playing is crystal-clear, though occasionally lacking in emotion; at times, his playing is a bit hesitant - something often heard on this instrument - but this does not mar the overall tone of these recordings.
The solo violin works are one of the major weak points in this set. It is quite a shame, because these are some of Bach's finest compositions. Mark Lubotsky suffers from an overuse of vibrato, making some of the movements sound like Gypsy music, and from a very poor rhythmic feel for the pieces. In some of the faster movements, it sounds as if he is rushing so much that he totally loses the flow.
The 17 CDs of organ music included in this set are by Hans Fagius, a set that was originally released by Bis records in Sweden. This is a fine set, indeed one of the best complete recordings of Bach's organ music. Fagius demonstrates a magnificent understanding of Bach's organ music, and the instruments used are excellent. One work, however, is lacking: the Art of Fugue played on the organ.
It is included here only in a harpsichord version, although it is often played on the organ. There is also no orchestral version of the work, either; but, you can't have everything! This long work, at over 19 minutes, is a series of variations of a choral prelude.
After an initial presentation of the chorale, Bach takes off in his most brilliant set of variations for the organ. Using every resource available for the organ, he displays an incredible variety of styles, from simple two-part sections to elaborate counterpoint. One of the advantages and disadvantages of this set as compared to the Teldec and Haenssler sets is that all the keyboard music is recorded on the harpsichord.
This is an advantage because Bach wrote most of his keyboard music for the harpsichord - the piano was only invented near the end of his life. Not that there is anything wrong with playing Bach's music on the piano; I am instrument-agnostic. But there is a certain coherence here that arises from the constant use of the harpsichord.
Yet, this is also a disadvantage. The Haenssler set, in particular, features some unique, little-recorded instruments - there is a magnificent disc Album) music for the lautenwerk, or lute-harpsichord; there is a fair amount of music recorded on the clavichord; and, Robert Hill's masterful recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier - one of the finest on disc - is recorded on several instruments: harpsichord, clavichord, fortepiano and organ.
In any case, the keyboard box in this set is excellent. On 23 CDs, some wonderful performers are present. Joseph Payne's French Suites originally recorded for Album) are among the finest recordings of these popular works.
Payne's approach to these suites is intimate and reserved, yet he does not hesitate to play somewhat more freely in the repetitions of the various movements. His interpretation is clear and unambiguous; firm in, say the first suite, more delicate, almost dainty in the sixth suite.
Under Joseph Payne's fingers, these works take on a new feeling. Pieter-Jan Belder's Partitas are sensitive and moving, though they do not approach the excellent recording by Trevor Pinnock, which is part of the Haenssler set. Belder has a judicious approach to the Partitas, though it could be considered a bit conservative. The recording here by Leon Berben is a mixed bag. The sound of his harpsichord has both good and bad points - it is an attractive instrument, but it suffers from a Album) too much reverb.
His playing is adequate, but his interpretation of the works ranges from inspired, in some of the pieces, to confused in others. It sometimes sounds as if he is right at home with the music, but, at other times, he seems to be unfamiliar with it, playing hesitantly. He has a light, delicate touch in the opening aria, which starts this work out in a very attractive tone. His harpsichord, a Ruckers copy, sounds magnificent - just the right level of presence and strength. Often, such recording leads to a bad sound, but here it works very well.
His playing is lively in the faster variations, and sensitive in the slower ones. This is indeed a fine performance. How can one conclude such a review? With a simple yes or no recommendation? Well, if it were that simple, I would give a resounding "yes"; I do, The Sixteen, highly recommend this set.
I have recordings of all of Bach's works, and did before receiving this set - I have some Bach CDs - yet I was delighted and surprised as I listened to the many pearls that I discovered in this set.
There are some drawbacks, though, mostly those inherent in buying any such complete set. While many of the recordings are excellent, there are some which are mediocre. Nevertheless, the good ones do outweigh the lemons, and, if you like Bach's music, you owe it to yourself to get this set - at its super-bargain price, even those recordings you don't like will not cause too much disappointment, but the quality of the excellent ones is such that you will certainly be delighted.
Note that the cost of some of the recordings in this set that have been licensed from other labels would far exceed the total cost of the entire set. If only to have the 60 CDs of sacred cantatas, and to discover what is an incredible collection of moving and memorable music, this set is worth having.
For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes. If I sin, then You would take note of me, And would not acquit me of my guilt. Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity.
For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. All rights reserved. Topical Bible Thematic Bible. Subscribe to the Verse of the day. Never miss a post Name. Verification Code. Related Readings 1 more readings on Secret. Error God Forgive! Confession of sin Forgiving Yourself motives Discernment cleansing secrets exams. Secrecy Concealment, Of Sin.
Byrd was not using plainchant forms or models to adapt them to the words, but beginning with the words to create the most beautiful and appropriate music he could to elucidate their meaning. The fourth episode focuses on Luther's changes to liturgical prayer to include congregational singing, the vernacular, and the organ -- and how those changes influenced Bach.
Johann Sebastian Bach created more than a thousand works of music, most of them for the Lutheran church. We had recently started listening to Actus Tragicusa CD of early cantatas from Harmonia Mundi, so we were glad to learn more about Bach's choral music.
I recommend the DVD set, with the warning that the discs do not present complete performances and my discontent with the second episode noted.
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