This disc is a far cry from the typical fare we’ve come to expect on the shelves around the Christmas season. The inclusion of Bach’s sublime Cantata 63 and Mendelssohn’s Vom Himmel hoch give the disc a year round appeal. Vaughan Williams’ joyful The First Nowell is a veritable feast of well loved carols and the London Philharmonic Choir together with soloists Lisa Milne and Christopher Maltman exude Christmas cheer.
This is an enjoyable, somehow spontaneous recording of several of Bach's works for a pair of harpsichords, with the great Japanese Bach conductor Masaaki Suzuki joined by his son Masato. The high spirits of the elder Suzuki here could be chalked up to any combination of several factors. One might be freedom from the rigors of his complete Bach cantata cycle, just recently completed when this album appeared in 2014.
Bach is often credited with having invented the keyboard concerto, despite the fact that all of his works in the mode were arrangements of existing concertos for other instruments. Furthermore, whatever influence they may have had was indirect. It’s unlikely that either Haydn or Mozart had heard any of this music or even knew of its existence. But Haydn may have encountered the keyboard concertos of Carl Philippe Emanuel, and Mozart knew Johann Christian’s works in the genre. Nevertheless the elder Bach’s concertos, whether played on a harpsichord, or on a piano, retain a revered place in the keyboard literature. Many listeners will remember the veteran Baroque specialist, Bob van Asperen, from his collaboration with Gustav Leonhardt in the Teldec Bach cantata series. Here he plays the solo concertos with expected grace and fluidity, accompanied by Melante Amsterdam, which is basically an expanded period-instruments string quartet. The performances have a chamber-like intimacy, which is especially attractive, for example, in the famous Largo of the F-Minor concerto (BWV 1056). The recording, dating back to 1993, sounds brand new.(George Chien)
GRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER 2015 - BAROQUE INSTRUMENTAL RECORDING OF THE YEAR. This recording is the first time that the five-stringed Amati has been used to record the 6th suite and it is the only original five-string cello in existence in the UK and unique in being the only one by this maker. The Cello Suites are performed on two gut-string cellos Suite Nos. 1-5 on a Francesco Ruggieri from 1660 and Suite No. 6 the five-stringed Cremona cello by A. & H. Amati from c.1600, both tuned to Baroque pitch. Bachs cello suites are renowned as the pinnacle of the instruments repertoire and are performed here in period performances by the internationally acclaimed cellist, David Watkin. David Watkin has been performing Bachs Cello Suites in concert for 35 years, and Bachs unaccompanied cello repertoire has taken him all over Europe, from the Palace of Frederick the Great at Potsdam to the Prague Spring Festival, and, as part of Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, included performances sitting by the font in which Bach was baptised.
]Yoshikazu Mera born May 21, 1971, in Miyazaki, Japan, is a Japanese countertenor. His range is three and a half octaves. Originally wanting to become a pop singer, Mera now primarily sings classical music from the West but also classical Japanese music. He appears frequently as a soloist with the Bach Collegium Japan, which under its conductor Masaaki Suzuki performs Baroque music. His 1998 recital disc "Nightingale" on Sweden's BIS Records was a major success in Japan.
With The All-Baroque Box we realize one of our fondest dreams: harnessing the deep catalogue of Archiv Produktion (supplemented on occasion by Decca L oiseau lyre recordings) to create a comprehensive collection of great music from Monteverdi to Bach. The music ranges from huge Baroque (Missa Salisburgensis, Venetian polychoral, Charpentier Te Deum) to intimate Baroque (the Goldberg Variations, Bach cello suites, solo cantatas) overwhelming in its impact and emotional content.