The Australian guitarist John Williams has long been universally recognized as a true master , to quote the Guardian. The centrepiece of Sony s new reissue of his Bach recordings is formed by the Suites for solo lute. Also contained on these 4 CDs are Williams s inspired transcriptions of the E major Violin Concerto (with the English Chamber Orchestra), preludes and fugues, chorales and movements from various suites. John Williams is a superb technician, wrote MusicWeb International, and justifiably deserves the accolades heaped on him during his long career. His rendition of these works is most authoritative and executed with admirable fluidity.
Originally released between 1975 to 1991 on the now-defunct Calliope label, Andre Isoir's recordings of the complete organ works of Bach have been unanimously acclaimed by both the press and the public. La Dolce Volta now offers these landmark recordings (unavailable since 2008), completely remastered, in a deluxe, specially priced boxed set. The set includes a 152 page, full color booklet rich with photos and information about the music and the recordings.
Much of Bach's music is abstract enough that it can easily be arranged for new instrumental combinations, and often was by the composer himself. The music for unaccompanied violin and for unaccompanied cello forms an exceptional case; the sonatas and partitas for solo violin were part of a long tradition of virtuoso violin music to which Bach was making a conscious contribution, and the six suites for solo cello were written as extensions of the ideas in the violin pieces. Transferring the cello suites to a solo recorder, which is incapable of executing many details of the cello scores, is thus something Bach probably wouldn't have countenanced. ..
Much of Bach’s organ music was written during the earlier part of his career, culminating in the period he spent as court organist at Weimar. Among many well-known compositions we may single out the Dorian Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538, the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564, Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582, Prelude and Fugue “St Anne”, BWV 552 (in which the fugue theme resembles the well-known English hymn of that name), Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, and the Toccata and Fugue in F, BWV 540. Chorale preludes are compositions for organ that consist of short variations on simple hymn tunes for all seasons of the church year. Better-known melodies used include the Christmas In dulci jubilo, BWV 608, Puer natus in Bethlehem, BWV 603, the Holy Week Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625, and the Easter Christ ist erstanden, BWV 627, as well as the moving Durch Adam’s Fall ist ganz verderbt, BWV 637, and the familiar Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645, and Nun danket alle Gott, BWV 657.
This album was recorded live at London's Wigmore Hall in January 2012, and it would be interesting to know whether its release was planned ahead of time or motivated by ongoing affection for the performances. Brazilian cellist Antonio Meneses and Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires have often played as a duo, and the easy conversational quality they have achieved is fully evident here. But the beauty goes beyond the usual chamber music competences. Meneses is rightly renowned for his rich tone, which remains undamaged even in the upper reaches of the Schubert Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, a work written for a defunct six-stringed instrument somewhere between cello and guitar; it lies a bit high for the cello, but Meneses is untroubled by that. The real star of the show, though, may be Pires, who contributes some deeply mysterious Brahms Intermezzi and calibrates her role with astonishing precision in the duo works, emerging into full duet partnership in the final Brahms Cello Sonata in E minor, Op. 38. Beautiful and more, with a dark, melancholy strain unifying the whole, this is chamber music reminiscent of the golden age. Deutsche Grammophon's engineering team also deserves notice for the startling live presence, undiminished by intrusions of noise.