This 20-disc box set has been entertaining me for several months. Dutch pianist Ivo Janssen set up his own record label to distribute his 1997 Goldberg Variations, recorded on the hoof over two days in Haarlem. Its success prompted him to tackle Bach’s complete keyboard output. And there’s a sense of fly-by-night impetuosity about some of these performances, all taped in the same venue with the same producer, the cycle finally finished in 2009.
No doubt many of you are wondering whether I should be recording Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas at the age of only 21. Perhaps I should have waited a bit longer? Well, patience has seldom been my strong point, and after all I have already waited a number of years for an opportunity to record these works. During the first six years of study with my teacher Ana Chumachenco, I studied the sonatas and partitas thoroughly, and first performed both cycles in their entirety in the Bach year 2000, during the course of two evenings at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival.
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.
At the Rainbow is a 1973 live album by the band Focus. A studio album was initially slated for release, but it was shelved due to disagreements within the band (an album compiled from the tapes of these sessions was later released with the title Ship of Memories), and At the Rainbow was released instead.
Konstantin Lifschitz has long since established himself as an outstanding exponent of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He has already recorded the `Musical Offering´ and the `Art of Fugue´ for ORFEO and now turns his attention to the composer´s seven keyboard concertos. He is partnered by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble that enjoys an equally distinguished reputation for its Bach interpretations. With only three of these seven concertos has it been possible to identify specific originals with different solo instruments, while the other four have been ascribed to various other instruments by experts in the field; attributions that none the less continue to be hotly debated.
The appetite for evolving performance practices in Bach’s St Matthew Passion appears undiminished as we have gradually shifted, over the generations, from larger to smaller ensembles and also towards a greater dramatic understanding of the implications of Bach’s ambitious ‘stereophonic’ double choir and orchestra choreography.