Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt were at the forefront of the early music movement that swept classical music in the '70s and '80s, performing pieces from the canon with period instruments in order to re-create the original intent of the composer as closely as possible. And their most enduring legacy is right here, the complete survey of Bach's sacred cantatas that they began in 1971 and completed in 1988.
…Whatever other recordings you may have in your library, Veldhoven’s inspired reading, with its exceptional blend of committed musicianship and scholarship should definitely be auditioned by all who love this work. This is without doubt a top recommendation and anyone receiving this set, as an Easter gift, will surely be delighted.
Bach’s Goldberg Variations have played a central role in harpsichordist Pierre Hantai’s musical life since his early youth. At 28 he recorded the work for the Opus 111 label (now available on Naïve), a highly acclaimed release that stands among the work’s choice versions. Over the past 11 years Hantai evidently has rethought and refined his interpretation, as revealed in this 2003 remake. There’s greater rhythmic freedom and variety of articulation, plus a more subjective approach to ornaments and agogics, especially in the repeats (he observes all but those in Variation 15, 25, and the Aria Da Capo; the 1992 recording honors all repeats save for Variation 25). Variations previously characterized through Hantai’s seamless legato technique (Nos. 3, 6, 8, 11, 17, and 18, for example) are further enlivened by detaché finger strokes and more inflected phrasings. The latter infuse Variations 7, 10, and 16 with greater resilience and rhythmic verve than their earlier counterparts.
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.