Complete Works of J.S. Bach (1 Box set
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Globally recognized as the only authoritative edition of Bach's works celebrating a lifetime's work and sought-after throughout the world. Hanssler Classic's Edition Backakademie set the standard for Bach interpretation! After tens of thousands of copies of the original box set sold globally, Hanssler Classic makes the epic Bach Edition available once again - completely redesigned, streamlined and updated and Includes 172 CDs in black paper sleeves, in a very attractive, elegant looking, light and handy box a 5000 pages text material on CD ROM and two books with BWV- and CD- number listing.
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Je m'attendais à de belles interprétations, mais comme celle-ci, non ! J'aime quand Bach est joué avec beaucoup de solennité, avec de la Grandeur et de la Majesté... et c'est exactement ce que j'ai trouvé ici à ma grande joie ! Donc pas de version vraiment "Baroque" ici, plutôt un version "Romantique" si l'on peut dire ! Et que dire de la Musique, des cantates surtout, mais aussi des motets... d'une Grandeur, d'une Hauteur... à remplir l'âme de bonheur et de paix !
Le plus beau cadeau que je me suis fait depuis l'intégrale des lieder de Schubert. Ce coffret de 172 CDs va m'accompagner pour le reste de mes jours ! Ne me demandez plus ce que j'apporterais sur mon île déserte: QUE DU BACH ! Ce coffret lumineux et envoûtant et, par instant, si émouvant !
Aux amoureux du Grand Cantor, voilà le genre d'achat que vous ne regrettez jamais ! Vous bénirez plutôt le Ciel d'avoir permis qu'une aussi Grandiose Musique ait pu exister sur notre petite Terre !
" C'est seulement sur les Sommets les plus élevés de l'Art que peut se réaliser cette union si intime de la mélodie et de l'harmonie. BACH jusqu'à présent a été le seul à atteindre ces Sommets !"
Forkel - Biographe de Bach
" Dieu et Sa Grâce sont toujours présents quand la Musique est recueillie."
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That said, it has been ten years since the hänssler/Rilling edition saw the light of day. At that time, the folks at hänssler and Warner were engaged in a war of words over whose "Complete Bach" was MOST complete. The hänssler/Rilling edition DID have more discs when completed - but this additional material, not presented in the Warner Bach 2000 consisted primarily of 12 discs of chorales. Lovely? Yes. A legitimate part of Bach's oeuvre? Yes. Yet 12 discs of hymn tunes was not a major incentive for this collector, at least.
Caveat lector! I personally prefer period instrument performances, and while boy sopranos and male falsettists may bother some listeners, the fact IS that this was the sound world that Bach dealt with; these were the musicians he wrote for. It is fighting the straw man to argue that had Bach ACCESS to female singers and modern orchestral instruments, he would have used them. To carry that line of reasoning to its logical extreme, Bach's music should simply just be performed on digital synthesizers.
At the heart of this massive collection are Bach's immortal works for the Lutheran Church - 60 discs of sacred cantatas and about 20 more worth or oratorios, Passions, Missae brevis (Lutheran masses, sans "Credo"), and a handful of smaller individual movements, all under the direction of Helmuth Rilling. Music history should rightly honor Rilling as the FIRST man to the top of the mountain. During the 1960s he was a God, performing obscure and long-forgotten and neglected works by Scheutz, the Bach family and Buxtehude. The recordings of the original Bach Edition were originally made between 1969-1985 and were integrally released in 1985 as part of the Bach Tercentenary. As is well known, Rilling always had the good fortune to work with superlative singers; the orchestras and ensembles are ready to take on most any challenge and the Gaechinger Kantorei deserve to be ranked among the world's great choral ensembles - if only for having learned and performed so much music so beautifully. And yet, in the 30 - 40 years since originally recorded, much has changed. The recordings could certainly do with a little digital remastering (some are extremely bright, while others are rather colorless...). Additionally, Bach scholarship has advanced and some of Rilling's interpretative choices have been superseded by later generations. Still in all, if your taste is for Bach on MODERN instruments, performed at lightening fast speeds - this IS the set you will want.
The organ works are uniformly were played and documented, though their arrangement into "thematic" collections (i.e. "New Ideas in Weimar", "Influences of Cantata, Concerto & Chamber Music", "Not a Note from Bach?" etc.) make it a bit of challenge to find the piece you are looking for.
The recordings of the keyboard works fortunately are fortunately organized by form, collection and idiom and there are some truly wonderful performances. Pinnock's Partitas are outstanding. Robert Levin does a fine job with the English Suites, though his WTC is an odd-ball affair, using at it does an assemblage of harpsichords, chamber organs, clavichords, etc. An interesting concept... and probably worth hearing for that alone. Among the real treasures to discover are the performances of Robert Hill on the Lute-Harpsichord (Lautenwerk). Bach apparently had a sweet-tooth for this hybrid harpsichord and owned a pair himself. Hill performs several works believed to have been written for this instrument as well as a fascinating collection of transcriptions (not all by Bach). Of the recordings that have not aged so well are those by Koroliov. His 2-disc "Golderg" Variations is probably one of the SLOWEST on record. His readings of the French Ouverture/Italian Concerto paring is spare and his Inventions & Sinfonias is fussy. For the last, I would have welcomed another performance from Robert Levin.
As for the chamber music, the two large solo collections (Sonatas and Partitas for Violn/Suites for Cello) are given fine, modern instrument performances by Dmitri Sitkovetsky (who later returns for the Violin Sonatas with keyboard) and Boris Pergamenschikow. The flute sonatas (together with a handful of Trio Sonatas) receive one of the more idiosyncratic treatments in the collection: Jean-Claude Gérard performs on a modern flute, while his continuo partners perform variously on bassoon, cello, harpsichord and Fortepiano. The Three Sonatas for Viola da Gamba are lovingly performed by Hille Perl - though without any companion works on the program, the CD's playing time is just about 38 minutes! Of all the chamber works in this monumental collection, the Musical Offering received one of the finest recordings on disc. Also included on the program are a fascinating set of Canons.
The epic journey ends with the orchestral and concertante works. These are all uniformly acceptable, modern instrument performances. Nothing objectionable and Rilling keeps the tempos brisk.
In summary, the entire collection really hangs on Helmuth Rilling's vision of Bach's works. Either you like his big, plumy choral sound with modern instruments or you don't. He used to be the only game in town but now there are an increasing number of alternatives, at least for the cantatas - Nikolaus Harnoncourt & Gustav Leonhardt on Teldec, Pieter Jan Leusink on Brilliant Classics, Ton Koopman on Antoine Marchand, Masaaki Suzuki on BIS and John Eliot Gardiner on the Soli Deo Gloria label.
My only comment of Rilling vs. more modern approaches is to moan the passage of time. There was a time when Klemperer's recordings rested supreme among Bach sacred works. Now he is considered sluggish and overblown. But then, tastes change.
A note on the packaging. I am a little disappointed that Hassler falls short in the disc sleeves. Where Brilliant provided studry heavy paper sleeves, color coded by type of music, and provided detailed recording information on teh back of each sleeve, Hassler is satisfied to provide thin, black paper sleeves with a clear front to view the disc (of course, Hassler also provides much more documentation elsewhere than does Brilliant).
One recommendation: given 172 discs and black sleeves with no information on them, I suggest you purchase a pack of white sleeves, also with clear fronts, so that you can replace sleeves, black for white, as you listen to the CDs. Doing this offeres a visual record at a glace as to your progress throughout the set.
After listening to multiple interpretations of the cantatas, and coming back to Rilling after quite a few years, I find his realizations interesting, valid and good. Naturally,one has to bear in mind that they are far from the authentic style.
The other groups were also sampled, and the instrumental and orchestral music is excellently performed, again remembering that the orchestra does not play on authentic instruments. The keybord works are interpreted, for sure, in line with the best.
The only serious drawback is poor hard-copy documentation, and to get the names of the soloists in individual cantatas one has to go to the cd-rom.
The instrumental works have been divided out to a wide range of performers, but what they all seem to have in common is a commitment to foregrounding the music and expressing a deep love for Bach. I'm particularly fond, myself, of the Russian performers-- Koroliov for the Goldberg variations, Sitokevsky for the violin solo works, and Pergaminschikow for the cello suites. Some will no doubt find these recordings TOO Russian; I like especially what Pergaminschikow says in his remarks on the cello suites, that he likes to think of them being played intimately, as if the performer were alone with the music. For my, Robert Hill's recording of the Art of the Fugue is another highlight, blending insight into performance practice with a flexible approach to the music. The organ works are designed into individual programs that are pleasant to listen to, and the chorales are organized into a multi-disc "choral book" in which harmonized chorales are interspersed with sacred song and organ chorales, making listenable an otherwise daunting mass of Bach's musical legacy.
I'll be listening to this for years to come. Having the complete corpus of work together, presented in terms of an overall vision of dedication and enthuasiasm for Bach's music gives me a sense of the whole corpus which is really sublime.
The set itself is nicely designed, with two large booklets providing music and tract information. The vocalists associated with individual cantatas are only listed, however, in the "e-booklet" versions of the liner notes available via CD-Rom. I've found the CD-Rom, however, very pleasant to use. Over 5000 pages of liner notes!
The set was designed in affiliation with the Bach-Akademie in Stuttgart, and in the liner notes there are many references to publications stemming from this institution, leading the listener out into the larger world of Bach scholarship.