This week we throw the spotlight on some new Bach arrivals, some astonishing pieces of great Baroque music.
Goldberg Variations, J. S. Bach. Performed by Beatrice Rana.
“In the wake of unanimous critical acclaim for her recording debut in concertos by Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky, Beatrice Rana responds with a courageous solo outing, exploring Bach’s masterwork in the variation form with a rewarding, personal journey through the composer’s incredible contrapuntal writing and the range of the emotional worlds distilled in each of the Aria’s 30 permutations” (cover).
St Matthew Passion, J. S. Bach. Performed by Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists together with various soloists, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.
“It strikes me that Bach made a quite extraordinary imaginative leap when he conceived this dazzling, multi-dimensional piece of music theatre. In avoiding the typically saccharine, maudlin approach his contemporaries sometimes adopted in their Lutheran oratorio-Passions, Bach’s whole focus is on justifying Luther’s great claim for music, that its notes should ‘make the text come alive'” (John Eliot Gardiner, p14 of liner notes).
Organ Works, volume 2, J. S. Bach. Performed by Masaaki Suzuki.
“For [this volume], Suzuki returned to more familiar ground – the chapel of the Kobe Shoin Women’s University where the great majority of his recordings with Bach Collegium Japan have taken place. The chapel houses a French classical organ built in 1983 by Marc Garnier, and on it Suzuki performs a highly symmetrical programme with the large-scale chorale partita BWV 768 at its centre. The work is known as ‘Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig’, although the chorale text that it is structured upon most probably is that of ‘O Jesu, du edle Gabe’. On either side the partita is flanked by an arrangement by Bach of concertos by Vivaldi, and a chorale prelude on ‘Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier’. The album opens and closes with a Prelude and Fugue, in G major and C major respectively” (amazon.com).