Here's a collection of Bach pieces where the performances fit together exceptionally well. The basic sound is that of Canada's veteran Baroque ensemble Tafelmusik under violinist and director Jeanne Lamon: smooth, bright, French in its light seductiveness. Sample the almost accentless Rondeau from the Suite in A minor, a violin-and-strings transcription (and according to musicologist Joshua Rifkin a reconstruction of an original version) of the Suite in B minor for orchestra, BWV 1067; you couldn't call it gutsy, but the degree of control and consistency is impressive.
Since its rediscovery and first complete performance in the mid-nineteenth century, Bach's B minor Mass has generally been produced with the large, sometimes gargantuan, performing forces typical of that era in the kinds of ensembles gathered for Mendelssohn's oratorios and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. Twentieth century scholarship has uncovered information about performances of individual movements of the Mass during the composer's lifetime indicating that, in spite of its length, Bach intended it to be a chamber piece for small vocal and instrumental ensembles…
With this transcription of the Goldberg Variations for string trio Dmitry Sitkovetsky pays homage to the genius of Bach over and above the original works for violin. The parts for violin, viola and cello are not divided in the context of a Baroque string ensemble supported by a basso continuo. The three equal partners function here like the different registers of a single instrument.
Bach dedicated the Aria mit verschiedenen Veränderungen to "music-lovers for the pleasure of their souls". May the transcription presented here be received in this spirit.
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.
When it came time for Johann Sebastian Bach to publish his Opus 1, what work do you think he picked? One of the sacred cantatas? One of the Brandenburg Concertos? One of the cello suites? No, none of the above. In 1726, Bach chose his B flat major Partita to start his publishing career – and once a year for the next five years, he published five more partitas, then collected them under the title Clavier-Übung in 1731. When it came time for Hungarian pianist András Schiff to make his major-label debut, what work do you think he picked? Yes, that's right. In 1985, Schiff released his recording of the complete partitas – and followed it with many more Bach recordings over the next few years until he'd released nearly the complete canonical works by 1996. And yes, Schiff's partitas are wonderful.