When it came time for Johann Sebastian Bach to publish his Opus 1, what work do you think he picked? One of the sacred cantatas? One of the Brandenburg Concertos? One of the cello suites? No, none of the above. In 1726, Bach chose his B flat major Partita to start his publishing career – and once a year for the next five years, he published five more partitas, then collected them under the title Clavier-Übung in 1731. When it came time for Hungarian pianist András Schiff to make his major-label debut, what work do you think he picked? Yes, that's right. In 1985, Schiff released his recording of the complete partitas – and followed it with many more Bach recordings over the next few years until he'd released nearly the complete canonical works by 1996. And yes, Schiff's partitas are wonderful.
In a church in a quiet northern Italian town survives a hidden jewel: an organ dating from 1749 which is perfect for Bach’s music. In this recording, renowned Italian organist Luca Guglielmi presents a fine sequence of some of Bach’s finest keyboard works, played on the historic organ in the Chiesa di San Nicolao, Alice Castello. The programme is compiled from works by Bach collected by two eighteenth century scholars, Padre Martini and Friedrich Wilhelm Rust, which would surely have been performed in the famous Abbey of Montecassino, a magnet for musical travellers on ‘The Grand Tour’. Martini and Rust played a major role in the creation of the first collected edition of Bach’s works. Guglielmi’s neatly-structured programme includes the brilliant Fantasia Chromatica, the solemn Fuga sopra il Magnificat, the fine Fantasia pro Organo in C minor and the great Fantasia & Fuga pro Organo, as well as Preludes and Fantasias, Duetti from the Clavierübung and seven Chorales for the Catechism, all demonstrating the vivid colours of this remarkable instrument.
The peal of church bells, the scent of Christmas trees and gleaming lights in every window: now all that's missing to complete the Yuletide mood is Christmas by great Baroque composers. This CD contains the most moving arias and resplendent choruses from Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah - the perfect music to celebrate Christmas with.
While Ivo Pogorelich established his reputation performing mainly Romantic repertoire, his few forays into the Baroque reveal him to be an equally engaging- if not eccentric musician here as well. In quicker movements, such as the opening Preludes of the English Suites for instance Pogorelich's rhythmic control and contrapuntal clarity are simply amazing. Slower movements likewise are handled with remarkable intensity and delicacy. Pogorelich's performances of four Scarlatti sonatas concluding the program as well are wonderfully animated and knowing.
The sound world of Bach’s last great Mass has changed radically in recent decades; one-to-a-part performance practice is, as conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen puts it, “changing our entire notion of Bach’s acoustic universe”. This bold claim is amply proven in an account of dazzling transparency, dance-like rhythms and utter clarity. Sometimes the balance seems not quite right, for example when organ continuo dominates, but some superb ensemble numbers pit voices against virtuosic instruments so each seems to outdo the other in joyous exuberance. The five soloists complement each other well, and the addition of just five extra singers is all that is needed to explode Bach’s universal vision into life.
Two rising stars in today’s firmament of Baroque music performance, Leila Schayegh and Jörg Halubek, join forces to record one of the major challenges in their joint repertory: the six Bach Violin Sonatas, BWV 1014-1019. The collection’s title, 'Sei Suonate à Cembalo certato è Violino Solo', reflects the close partnership demanded of the violin and harpsichord players, with Bach moving away from the idea of continuo support for a solo instrument and constantly making new technical demands on the musicians and thereby approaching the concept of the triosonata. Completed by around 1725, most of these richly characterful works combine the Italian style and a cantabile tone with elements of German contrapuntal style. The artistic partnership of Schayegh and Halubek, now in its tenth year, has seen them record chamber music by Jean-Marie Leclair, CPE Bach and Giovanni Mossi but the Bach Violin Sonatas represents their first joint recording for Glossa.