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Before I leave JS Bach's Mass in B-minor, here's the first recording I bought: John Eliot Gardner's first version from the mid-80s. As Kenyon says, it's a bit frantic in places, but there's no doubting the commitment of the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir:


I used to listen to this every Sunday morning when I was a student as I waited for my laundry...
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Inspired by Saturday's episode of Building a Library on JS Bach's Mass in B-minor, two very different versions. The first is the Herbert von Karajan's take on the opening Kyrie:



The second is the entire piece courtesy of Concerto Copenhagen — Nick Kenyon's ultimate choice in his survey — in a one-voice-per-part version:


Each is lovely in its own way — I have both of them — and each seems to emphasize a different aspect of Bach's dazzling writing...
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Motivated by this morning's Record Review, which played excerpts from recent versions of some of Bach's cantatas for alto soloist — both Iestyn Davies and Phillipe Jarosky have new recordings out — here's an unashamedly old-school version of Widerstehe doch der Sünde BWV54.


The performer is Marga Höffgen accompanied the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Kurt Thomas — Bach's many-times-removed successor as Thomaskantor.
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For the first day of Christmas, what else can it be but Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage, the opening chorus to JS Bach's Christmas Oratorio.


The performers here are the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardner.
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It's the first Sunday in Advent already, so here's JS Bach's cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62, written in 1724 during his second year in Leipzig.

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Almost through chance, I discovered that Maude Gratton, whose performances of Bach I'd very much enjoyed when they were coupled with Damien Guillon and La Banquet Céleste's performances of some of the cantatas — in which Gratton had played the organ obbligatos — has recorded performances of some of Bach's organ works from his time in Leipzig.

The pieces show the same thoughtful articulation, careful registration, and attention to detail that made the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor and the Trio Sonata No. 3 so engaging. By way of a taster, here's the Prelude in E-flat major from Clavier-Übung III:


The instrument used in this performance is the Silbermann organ of the Friedenskirche in Ponitz.
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A musical treat in the form of Daniel Roth playing JS Bach's Schübler chorale, Kommst du nun:


As a bonus it comes with a little introduction from M. Roth, who talks about his approach to the piece and how his sons tease him about his use of legato in Bach!
sawyl: (A self portrait)
A nice thing from this morning Breakfast on R3 in the shape of the gigue from the fifth of Bach's French Suites. They went with Anderszewski playing just the last movement but I can't resist András Schiff playing the entire suite:



With the office very noisy today — I now know far more than I really want to about the dental health of someone on the other side of the aisle — and with it being delivery day, I goofed off and went downstairs where I helped to prep some of the cables.

While I was down there, Sonja showed me a neat trick: how to write with both hands at the same time. When she did it, she reversed the writing in one direction, but when I did it, I wrote the same way with each hand. I suspect it may be because I write equally well — or, more honestly, equally badly — with either hand and being able to write backwards with one hand isn't really all that useful...
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Having finally finished backstitching my notes from Saturday's Bristolcon back into the blog, here's a bit of Bach to celebrate: it's a shamelessly romantic performance of the Dorian Toccata BWV538 — much less famous than the other one in D-minor — played on the organ of St Mary Radcliffe, the huge church close by where the convention was held:

sawyl: (A self portrait)
Listening again to Alina Ibragimova's amazing performances of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin, I'm again struck by just how spellbinding they are. There's a real sense of risk and adventure, especially in the pianissimo sections, while the vast chaconne was all the more amazing given the decision to restart — something that seems to have been discreetly removed from the listen again version, which seems a shame.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
I'm utterly taken with Stefano Molardi's Bach recordings, which I discovered thanks to an edition of CD Review back in early April.

sawyl: (A self portrait)
Bit of a lost day today, so instead of anything original here's Ton Koopman playing JS Bach's Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue. The performance suffers a little from the acoustic of the St Jacobi Church in Hamburg, but Koopman's registration, phrasing and ornamentation in the adagio (starts at 5:20) are sublime:


sawyl: (A self portrait)
For no terribly good reason other, except that they're each extremely charming in their own way, three different takes on the same piece of music.

Firstly, the original: Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in D-major for violin RV 230 from L'Estro Armonico, Op. 3, No. 9 performed by the Clarion Musical society:



Secondly, Johann Sebastian Bach's keyboard arrangement of Vivaldi's concerto BWV 972, performed here on the harpsichord by Richard Egarr:



Thirdly and finally, Alison Balsom's arrangement for trumpet and organ of Bach's arrangement. I liked this piece very much when I heard it as part of the RFH's Pulling Out All the Stops festival back in March — I particularly like the crispness of the tutti in the allegro and the conversation between the performers in the larghetto.

sawyl: (A self portrait)
Although it's Advent and not Whitsuntide, I can't resist the joy and delight of the tenor aria Kommt, eilet, stimmet Sait und Lieder from JS Bach's Cantata 74 Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten. Here's Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan with Makoto Sakurada taking the solo part:


Suzuki's upbeat approach feels more satisfactory, I think, than the slower version recorded by Leonhardt and Kurt Equiluz in late 70s...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
From Bach's Cantata 36, Schwingt freudig euch empor, for the first Sunday in Advent, the aria Auch mit gedämpften, schwachen Stimmen. The performers are the J.S. Bach Foundation of St Gallen, with Nuria Rial soprano and John Holloway playing the obbligato violin part.

sawyl: (A self portrait)
I make no apologies for posting a live performance by this year's musical crush — Le Banquet Céleste, Damien Guillon, and organist Maude Gratton — performing Bach's cantata 82, Ich habe genug, and cantata 170, Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust from the Abbeye aux Dames in Saintes:



They're every bit as good live as they are in their recording and it's a real treat to watch such a tight-knit group of performers in conversation with each other, especially in some of the the obbligato writing.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
John Eliot Gardiner is on a bit of role. The Guardian ran an In praise of... piece on him on on Friday, Saturday's Review carried Gardiner's own article on Bach, and today saw him overseeing a Bach marathon at the Albert Hall as part of R3's Baroque Spring event. Not a bad way to mark a significant birthday...

sawyl: (A self portrait)
Being Good Friday it can only be the St Matthew Passion, here in a 2010 performance given by Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent. Christophe Prégardien is the Evangelist, Tobias Berndt is Christ, while a superb cast of singers — including Damien Guillon & Matthew Brook — take the rest of the roles.

sawyl: (A self portrait)
It hasn't been a good week for classical music heroes: Van Cliburn and Wolfgang Sawallisch I knew about, but I'd managed to miss the sad news of Marie-Claire Alain's death until I heard about it on R3 this morning. So here, then, is Alain playing Bach's other D-minor toccata, the Dorian, BWV 538.



ETA: A link to Barry Millington's obit in the Guardian.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
I'm completely sold on CD Review's latest disc of the week: Damien Guillon, le Banquet Céleste, and Maude Gratton performing Bach cantatas in Strasbourg. The whole thing is a delight, but the decision to use the church organ in the ensemble is positively inspired: the sound is very nicely balanced against the rest of the ensemble and it positively sparkles in the obbligato parts aria Mir ekelt mehr zu leben.


Definitely one to add to the list.

ETA: I'm happy to say the disc more than lives up to the promises of the excerpts on CD Review. The two cantatas for solo alto, BWVs 35 and 170, are superb and show off the talents of the performers to great advantage. Maude Gratton is quite superb, both as primus inter pares in the two large scale concerto movements of Geist und Seele wird verwirret, as accompanist in Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust, and as soloist in the third trio sonata and the dramatic Fantasia and Fugue in G-minor.

Very, very good stuff.

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