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…
La Petite Bande has recorded a spectacular rendition of Bach’s four orchestral suites, certainly some of the most spectacular instrumental music of the Baroque repertoire. La Petite Bande director, Sigiswald Kuijken, has written a very informative essay explaining the history of these pieces. Unfortunately, more is unknown than known. Kuijken speculates that the works were conceived for string orchestra and the wind parts were added at a later date. He also notes that sections of the 4th Suite were reused in the opening chorus of the Christmas Cantata, BWV 110. Kuijken also remarks that he has rethought his approach to these works opting for small musical forces as opposed to the rather large ensemble that La Petite Bande employed in its performances and recording of about 30 years ago.
The warm and tuneful music of Atterberg – one of Sweden’s leading composers in the twentieth century – meets the idiomatic spirit and commitment of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Jarvi, for volume four in this series. The third of his nine symphonies, featured here, is a set of three ‘West Coast Pictures’. These contrasted movements (‘Summer Haze’, ‘Storm’, and ‘Summer Night’) were inspired by the atmosphere and landscape of the archipelago on the Swedish west coast and written between 1914 and 1916.
Very few conductors have recorded as much Bach as Karl Richter and none can lay a stronger claim to a legacy based on championing the master. Richter's reverence for Bach is evinced by the simplicity, splendor, and grandeur with which he consistently imbued his performances exemplified here by these landmark recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites. In Archiv's original-image bit-processing remastered transfers as well, the sound is better than ever. This is cornerstone Bach that should not be missed.
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.