This cycle of preludes and fugues composed by Johann Sebastian Bach ranks tremendously high in the world of music. It is not just one of the immortal masterpieces of the world music literature; it is an encyclopedia of polyphonic art, a handbook for life, and an inexhaustible source of delight. Sviatoslav Richter said, Whenever I set to the Well-Tempered Clavier, I always get consumed with a desire not to exclude any of the sides for the sake of one narrow and dogmatic position. I am confident that Bach can be played in different ways, with different articulation and different dynamics, as long as the whole is preserved and the performance is convincing.
The recipient of the 2012 City of Leipzig Bach Medal, Masaaki Suzuki has earned an enviable reputation as an interpreter of the music of J. S. Bach as a reviewer in Intl Record Guide has put it: 'With Suzuki you can hear Bach's heart beat'. To a wide audience he is known as the director of Bach Collegium Japan, and the moving force behind the ensemble's acclaimed recordings of Bach's complete sacred cantatas. Perhaps less well known is that he began his career at the age of 12! playing the organ at church services in Kobe, where he was born. Suzuki has remained true to the organ throughout his life, and for BIS he has previously recorded Bach's German Organ Mass, as well as programs of Buxtehude and Sweelinck. He here appears on a disc combining some of Bach's best-loved works for the instrument, including the D minor Toccata and Fugue, the Partitas on O Gott, du frommer Gott, BWV 767, the Canonic Variations, BWV769, and the celebrated Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV548.
Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr here assemble all the viola da gamba sonatas written by three composers born in the propitious year of 1685: one each by Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and three by JS Bach. Isserlis plays them on the gamba’s modern cousin, the cello, and the microphone loves his playing, picking up all the nuances and scampering asides from his soft-spoken instrument which can sometimes get lost in big concert halls. Egarr on harpsichord matches Isserlis’s eloquence and rambunctious energy all the way. The dreamy, airy slow movement of Bach’s Sonata in G minor brings telling use of vibrato as Isserlis circles around Egarr, his playing at once idiomatic and soulful. An extra cellist reinforces the bass line in the Handel and Scarlatti, in which the composers give the harpsichordist only a framework; Egarr’s imaginative realisations ensure that even when Scarlatti is at his most repetitive, he is never dull.
Avant garde. Eccentric. A maniac. Wild and adventurous. Off the wall. Extraordinary. No marketing hyperbole - this is how the players of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment describe Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach and his music. One of the many children of JS Bach, CPE Bach always lived in his father’s shadow, and now is an almost unknown figure at least beyond the classical cogniscenti. How can such an unknown be considered a gamechanger? A listen to his music reveals just why – it constantly shifts, wrongfooting the listener when they least expect it with wild changes of direction and colour – it is bright, effervescent, and is a fascinating link between the music of his father (and the Baroque era) and Joseph Haydn (and the Classical era).
"Perahia doing Bach, as Perahia does Bach: very clean and very smooth. Very un-Gould. If Gould uses the piano to try and emulate the detached sound of a harpsichord (always sans pedal), Perahia is almost the opposite. Having said so, the sound Perahia achieves in the second movement (largo) of Concerto No. 5 (BWV 1056) is simply fabulous … one of my favourite piano sounds on SACD (after the Tchetuev Schnittke SACD on Caro Mitis). Beautifully recorded. Perahia's Goldberg variations on SACD is now almost impossible to find, and this SACD seems to be heading the same way, so grab it while you can. Highly recommended." ~sa-cd.net