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Bach: Edition - The Complete Works Box set

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 798.82
Only 1 left in stock - order soon.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Oct. 17 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 155
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Foreign Media Group BV
  • ASIN: B000HRME5U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,642 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Top Customer Reviews

155 cd's for less than a dollar a piece makes you think this cannot be very good. On the contrary. The cantata's alone are worth having. It is done in a matter that would do Bach proud.
Hans Fagius does a fine job with the organ works on a Swedish baroque organ.
The instumental works are acceptable, there are better recordings of some.
The packaging is neat. All the cd' are colour coded and divided in 6 categories.
The index is printed on the inside of the lid.
If you like Bach's sacred music, this edition is a much have.
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This is a very good collection. The set comes in a box that is a bit longer than a foot long. Each disc has its own cardboard sleeve with different art on each sleeve. The sleeve also says what is on each disc. The sleeves are color coded by organ music, cantatas, etc so it is very easy to find the disc you want. Also under the lid of the box is a list of all the CD's and what they contain. There is also a PC disc that I guess is the manual for all the music although I never used that. The music is very nice quality. I mainly like the Organ Music and the Brandenburg Concertos so I listen to those over and over. The few Cantata's I've listened to are also very good. I'm not a classical music expert but I certainly enjoy listening to this music.
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Having listened to this set for the last 9 months or so, I remain impressed. They may have saved on the packaging, but the performances and recordings are quite good to excellent. Nothing is perfect, and neither is every disk in this set. I am most enamoured with the Cantatas. I have read a number of reviews on the Cantatas, and most were quite negative. I can agree with much of the criticism - Ruth Holton's pronunciation is often unintelligible, but her voice makes up for that! The tenors tend to be more loud than subtle. The alto is no Michael Chance. The sopranos in the choir are sometimes a bit shrill. However the performances are musical and intriguing. The tempi may seem odd, but they fit the text. The recordings themselves are detailed, you can hear the actions of the clarinets and the bassoons - perhaps not necessary to hear the mechanics, but it indicates how the recordings would have been made. I cannot stop listening to the Cantatas, so I believe that just the cantatas are well worth the price of the set.
The organ musio is well done. I have heard organs that I like better than the ones used here. A matter of taste.
No regrets here, I would buy this set again.
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Its all here and It's almost overwhelming how much there is to listen to. I've especially enjoyed the concerto transcriptions and the preludes and fugues. I hadn't listened to much of Bach's choral works and cantatas before but I appreciate having them on hand when I'm feeling curious. Lots of sound in this box set.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ea13150) out of 5 stars 91 reviews
276 of 282 people found the following review helpful
By Ken Braithwaite - Published on
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This is an amazing bargain, and if you are tempted you need not hesitate. However it is far from uniformly excellent.

The core of the set is the complete religious cantatas. There are 60 cd of these. This is done by a small Dutch group, and the results are mixed. The choir is generally good, as is the small orchestra, but sometimes the soloists are not. I like them overall. Above all they are small scale performances. Don't expect John Elliot Gardiner.

With the major vocal works -- passions, B minor, etc -- the recordings are uniformly good, with usually big name groups. No worries here. The secular cantatas are also very good.

The harpsichord music is again a bit uneven, but mostly good. This won't be a favorite WTC, but it is quite listenable. The French, Englis suites, and partitas & inventions are very good indeed. The recorded sound is outstanding throughout.

The organ survey is first rate.

The instrumental music is also a mixed bag. The chamber music fares better than the orchestral, but the suites are quite good. The harpsichord concerti are beautifully recorded but at such a slow tempo I can only call them weird.
163 of 169 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e850b4c) out of 5 stars Definitely worth the price, which factors into the rating Feb. 10 2007
By Austin Reader - Published on
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[...]This Bach set is an amazing bargain. Clearly the set is geared towards the novice and you'll want to replace individual performances eventually; but much of this material is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere (except as part of one of the two other Complete Bach cycles), and you'd be unlikely to anyway. Plus, there are many very good performances, which alone would make the set worthwhile at this price.

As far as I am concerned, the Hanssler Classics complete set is the best of the complete sets. I've reviewed that one separately. However, it is ten times more expensive, if you can even find it. Your other choice, the Bach 2000 set, contains the Leonhardt-Harnoncourt cycle of Cantatas, which I cannot stand. I agree with Jim Svejda when he noted that Harnoncourt and Leonhards "gleefully take turns mauling the luckless pieces beyond recognition."

One of the saddest facts of musical history is that Bach was not recognized for the genius that he was in his lifetime. His compositions were mostly occasional music that were played once. After his death, they were so little respected that much of the sheet music was sold for scrap paper and about a third of the Cantatas were lost forever. Fortunately we have what we do. That Brilliant Classics has made this wonderful music available at a price that allows a more widespread distribution makes it reason enough to purchase the set.

Brilliant Classics attempted to record the entirety of Bach's remaining compositions on period instruments utilizing the most recent Bach scholarship. 65% of the set are new recordings. The other 35% were licensed from other lables. Now some, like me, much prefer the recordings on modern instruments. I have yet to hear a harpsichord rendition of the Goldberg Variations that is superior to the top performances on piano (although it is a well-known fact that Bach hated the piano, which during his lifetime was little more than a toy). All of the keyboard works on this set are recorded on harpsichord. Pieter-Jan Belder records that Goldberg Variations. It has received fine reviews, but I simply cannot get beyond my prejudices against the harpsichord to comment meaningfully (it is quite lively, though).

That said, and with the reservation that this set is performed with nearly all period instruments, I can recommend it without hesitation at this price.

The Brilliant Classics set has an interesting history. It is based on 5-disc sets of the Cantatas sold at the Krudivat drug store chain in the Netherlands at bargain basement prices (the equivalent of pennies per Cantata). More than 100,000 sets were sold in the Netherlands alone. Pieter Jan Leusink, conductor of Holland Boys Choir and Netherlands Bach Collegium, recorded the Cantatas over a period of 15 months, an insanely short period of time. It is the first digital recording of the Cantatas. There is a consistency of performers in this cycle that is unrivaled, although not all of the performers performed at the same time. Also I find the women singers on the Rilling cycle of Cantatas better than anything a choir of boys can do, despite the unhistorical aspect of such. I doubt that female singers would have shocked Bach--after all, he married one. An interview with Leusink regarding the cycle can be found online.
144 of 157 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e850db0) out of 5 stars Wonderful Nov. 22 2006
By William Taylor - Published on
I will not give it 5 stars because they are not all definitive recordings of the works. However, I was very surprised with the performance level of the entire set. The organ works are amazing as are the cantatas! And I don't mean good... I mean really good! Some of the harpsichord recordings sound like someone sight reading (and not all that well), and lack that fresh excitement of a truly great recording but they are technically accurate for the most part (tempos tend to get a little shaky around difficult passages and phrase endings, something that is not written in the music) See the Well-Tempered Clavier in this set to see what I am talking about. There are a few other flaws... Mainly in recording... For example (I'll take a popular work): The organ fugue in G minor BWV 578 "Little Fugue" is surrounded with noises... Almost like the sound of footsteps on a stage (see 1:06, 2:29, 2:53 and 2:39 in this piece). However, I believe it is the sound of the air pump re-filling the organ with air! Very cool for authenticity and period sound... Definitely not needed for these recordings. We get the point with the instrumentation; I don't need an auditory time machine to recreate the moment in full. Next they will add the sounds of the people in the church chatting in 18th century German. Please... Just the music! I am glad that the recordings are all done with period instruments though and great care (almost too much) was taken in authenticity. Don't get me wrong; I didn't toss out my Andras Schiff Inventions or my modern orchestra versions of his works. Quite the contrary... You can learn a lot about the music by listening to all versions. That's not a shot at the purists... Well, maybe it is. I mean if you only had period versions of Beethoven's symphonies, he would be trampled over by Mahler, Bruckner and the rest of the gang. That's a fact. But in the case of Bach, it is almost essential that you maintain the original instrumentation. Bach's music is so based on the relationship between voices and the subtlest of contrapuntal ideals. He is not a sculptor of sound, as Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms were, but more like a musical acrobat that can do summersaults on a wire an inch thick.
I could go into details, but it would take hundreds of pages! Just get it, and "spend the rest of your life with Bach"... I can't say anything more profound.
This set of 155 CDs is a true delight, and a great investment for the dedicated music fan. Plus, it looks awesome on your CD shelf.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e850d2c) out of 5 stars MegaBach Feb. 13 2007
By Spencer Morrow - Published on
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Well, the price was too good to pass up! And though I've not listened to it all, I've sampled numerous parts of each section. I've not been disappointed by any of the instrumental works--good cheeky period-instrument performances that rank with any of the higher-priced, better known groups. The lute suites are a revelation, since most of us are familiar with them only in guitar versions. The harpsichord concerti are remarkably well-balanced, solo instrument(s) to orchestra--something that is not always the case. I must confess that--as a composer--I've always preferred Bach solo keyboard works on the modern piano (if played in a clean manner, such as Schiff or even the classic Gould) because the counterpoint is better revealed. But any music lover should have both harpsichord and piano versions of these works anyway. The cantatas are generally well-performed; they do have a small "provincial" feel about them, but in a way that adds a charmingly earnest quality to them. The organ works are well played.

The set is very well laid out, making finding a disc easy. The CD included with notes and texts is a bit of a pain in the butt to use. I suggest that anyone ordering the set (and any music-lover should) also look for a copy of the Oxford Composer Companions series J.S. Bach, ed. Malcolm Boyd.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e89a330) out of 5 stars A terrific buy on some of the best music ever written Dec 27 2006
By Denis - Published on
I can't say enough good things about this compilation of the complete works of JS Bach. Just a set of the complete organ music of Bach or the complete cantatas often costs more than this entire 155 CD set of all Bach's music. All of it! Most of the performances are at least good, many are excellent, and some are even superlative. And the sound is excellent throughout.

I have admired the Fagius performances of the organ music even before buying this set, having already heard some of his recordings. These alone, incorporated in 17 packed CDs, are worth the price of the set. All 200+ sacred catatas are spread over 60 disks. For me, this has been the highlight because the performers seem to be having such a good time doing the music. It's fun to just pick a number, find it, and enjoy the music.

Brilliant Classics has treated us to a real musical banquet. Enjoy the feast!

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