The Moscow Chamber Orchestra was created in 1956 by renowned conductor and violist Rudolf Barshai, and has long been considered a Russian national treasure.
Dmitry Shostakovich, who entrusted the first performance of his Fourteenth Symphony to the Orchestra, said: “This must be the greatest chamber orchestra in the world.”
Dedicated to the Margrave of Brandenburg, J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are timeless works of art - their variety of styles and instrumental combinations reveal inspiration of the highest order. Karl Richter's Brandenburg Concertos are perfectly paced, clear textured and undeniably stylish. There's a level of sophistication in this performance which few recordings are able to equal. The Munchener Bach-Orchester has a sound that is in the German tradition and thoroughly idiomatic.
Every Richter fan will want to hear his performances of four of Bach's English Suites (6) taped in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow on May 20, 1991. Recorded near the end of his career, they are Richter at his most deeply affecting and deeply human. Richter was 76 when he gave these performances, but they reveal no lack of power, no technical weakness, and certainly no want of intensity. But at this point in his life and always in this repertoire, Richter has restrained his virtuosity to concentrate on Bach's linear counterpoint played with such complete independence of the fingers that every line is clear, cogent, and compelling. But more than anything, Richter's lines are voices, all singing their own lines in effortless and ineluctable ensemble with each other and thereby creating a whole infinitely greater than the sum of its parts. In these late performances, Richter is at his most lyrical, with each voice given its own supple phrasing and its own sweet tone. While being quintessentially pianistic, Richter's performance of Bach's music is essentially the sound of Richter singing. Great Hall's sound is raw and honest. ~ James Leonard, Rovi Performances
Hermann Scherchen's performances of these Brandenburg Concerts avoids the normally expected exaltation of opening and closing movements conferred by most performances. Instead, he opts for a beautifully serene approach to the score, making it more reflective, thoughtful and expansive, hightlighting the lyrical flow that emanates from it.
For fans of Il Giardino Armonico's flamboyant flourishes and exuberant expressiveness, it's like having all your birthdays at once, being presented with this great Warner Classics 11 CD set. My own feeling is that this "free" approach to Baroque music is at its best when applied to the theatrical music of disc 8 or the seventeenth century Italian music on disc 1. The showmanship and playfulness is an absolute joy in many of those pieces. I'm less satisfied with the interpretations of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, (on discs 10 and 11), which require a different approach, I feel. I like my Bach to be a little more measured and subtle, I suppose. It has no need of the Il Giardino Armonico treatment. On the whole, though, I do love this set and wouldn't be without it.