Listening to this irresistibly joyful and magnificently musical set of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites, one is immediately struck by two thoughts. First, Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan have been wasting their time concentrating on Bach's dour cantatas, and second, Bach himself was wasting his time writing his melancholy church music when he could have been composing infinitely more cheerful secular music. While Suzuki and his crew have turned in superlatively performed, if spectacularly severe recording of the cantatas, they sound just as virtuosic and vastly more comfortable here.
Simon Rattle has recorded a lot of 19th century music and most of the results have been dismal. There is little to recommend by Rattle in pre-20th century repertoire. A few Haydn symphonies, some pretty good Brahms, bits of Mahler, Ein Heldenleben by Strauss which is just at the cusp of the 20th century. Alright, so Rattle is not the conductor to go to for the great classics. However, when he records modern music, he seems fully in tune with it's sound and style, plus he has less competition on the market to boot.
The French conductor François-Xavier Roth was born in France in 1971 and studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique. In October 2000 he won joint first prize at the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London, following which he was appointed for two seasons assistant conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra. From 2000 to 2002 he was also assistant conductor with the Caen Orchestra. In 2003 François-Xavier Roth created the chamber orchestra Les Siècles (The Centuries), combining period and modern instruments, an orchestra which covers a vast repertoire from Baroque to contemporary music.
The Trio series is unquestionably, along with EMI's Gemini sets, one of the best available. This particular item is a complete set of Hindemith's orchestral works, and not only do we get full servings at over 60 minutes per CD, but you get fantastic performances as well. These Blomstedt SFSO/Leipzig Gewandhauser recordings were originally issued at full price on Decca, and when one hears them one can tell why.
Johan Joachim Agrell (1701-1765) was in many ways a traveller between the worlds: in Uppsala, the Swede's great talent was recognized by the Hessian envoy, which resulted in Agrell being summoned to a court near Kassel in Germany. He later went as municipal chapel-master to Nuremberg. Musically, Agrell was a brilliant Baroque composer in whose works many of the new early Classical trends were anticipated.