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BUILDING A LIBRARY: J S BACH

Andrew McGregor, presenter of CD Review

The importance of Bach's music means that it features regularly in CD Review's Building a Library feature.

This page presents a sequence of Building a Library Bach features dating back to 1995 - the recommendations are in date order, with the latest recommendations first.

Please note that recordings which are recommended may no longer be available, or may have been reissued in other collections with different catalogue numbers.

    Bach: The Musical Offering BWV 1079

    First Choice:
    Gottfried von der Goltz (violin), Karl Kaiser (flute), Ekkehard Weber (viola da gamba), Michael Behringer (fortepiano) (recorded 1999;
    c/w Canon BWV 1072-1078, 1086; Fourteen Canons on the first eight fundamental notes of the aria from the Goldberg Variations)
    HANSSLER CD 92.133 (CD)

    Choice with harpsichord:
    John Holloway (violin), Janet See (flute), Jaap ter Linden (cello), Davitt Moroney & Martha Cook (harpsichord) (recorded 1987)
    HARMONIA MUNDI HMA 1951260 (CD, budget) (musique d'abord series)

    Also recommended:
    Le Concert des Nations - Marc Hantai (flute), Pierre Hantai (harpsichord), Manfredo Kraemer, Pablo Valetti (violin),
    Bruno Cocset (violone, cello), Sergi Casademunt, Lorenz Duftschmid (viola da gamba), Jordi Savall (viola da gamba/director)
    (recorded 1999 & 2000)
    ALIA VOX AV 9817 (CD)

      Bach: The Complete Motets

      *First Choice:
      The Netherlands Chamber Choir, Ageet Zweistra (cello), Maggie Urquhart (violin), Maarten van der Heyden (violin), Jan Kleinbussink (organ), Ton Koopman (conductor) (recorded 1986, 1987)
      PHILIPS 434 165-2 (CD)

      * not currently available

      Also Recommended:
      La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale Gent, Orchestre de la Chapelle Royale, Philippe Herreweghe (conductor) (recorded 1985)
      HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 901231 (CD)

      Choir and Orchestra of La Petite Bande, Sigiswald Kuijken (conductor) (recorded 1992)
      ACCENT ACC 9287 (CD)

      RIAS-Kammerchor, Members of the Akademie fur Alte Musik, Berlin, Rene Jacobs (conductor) (recorded 1995)
      HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 901589 (CD)

      Mid-Price Recommendations:
      Cantus Colln, Konrad Junghanel (conductor)
      (recorded 1995)
      DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 74321 935432 (CD, mid-price)

      Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)
      (recorded 1980; c/w Cantata: O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht BWV 118; Cantata: Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft BWV 50)
      ERATO 2292 459792 (2-CD, mid-price)

        J.S. Bach: The English Suites, BWV 806-811

        First Choice (Piano):
        Angela Hewitt (piano) (recorded 2002-2003)
        HYPERION CDA67451/2 (2 hybrid CD-SACD)

        First Choice (Harpsichord):
        Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord) (recorded 1973)
        SONY SB2K 62949 (2-CD, mid-price)

        Mid-price Choice (Piano):
        Robert Levin (piano) (recorded 1998-1999)
        HANSSLER 113 (2-CD, mid-price)

          J.S. Bach: The Orchestral Suites, BWV 1066-1069

          First Choice:
          Musica Antiqua Koln, Reinhard Goebel (1 st Violin/director) (recorded 1982 & 1985; c/w The Brandenburg Concertos; Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord; Sonatas for Violin & Continuo; Concerto for Flute, Violin, Harpsichord and Strings in A Minor: Wilbert Hazelzet (flute),
          Andreas Staier (harpsichord), Reinhard Goebel (violin)
          ARCHIV 4716562 (8-CD, budget)

            J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV.988

            Overall First Choice (Harpsichord):
            Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord) (recorded 1962)
            TELDEC 8573 81143-2 (CD, mid-price)

            Piano Choice:
            Andras Schiff (piano) (recorded 1982)
            DECCA 417 116-2DH (CD)

            Also available on
            PENGUIN CLASSICS 466 214-2 (CD, mid-price)

            Glenn Gould Choice:
            The Complete Goldberg Variations 1955 & 1981 'A State of Wonder ':
            Contains two discs (the 1955 & 1981 recordings) and a third disc with Studio Out-takes and Gould's Last interview, with Tim Page :
            Glenn Gould (piano)
            SONY CLASSICAL SM3K 87703 (3-CD, budget)

              J.S. Bach: Six Accompanied Violin Sonatas, BWV.1014-1019

              First Choice:
              Rachel Podger (violin), Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)
              CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS 14798 (2-CD, mid-price)

                J.S. Bach: Six Trio Sonatas for Organ, BWV. 525-530

                First Choice:
                Christopher Herrick (organ) (Metzler organ of St Nikolaus, Bremgarten, Switzerland )
                (recorded 1989)
                HYPERION CDA66390 (CD)

                Also available c/w Bach's complete organ works; on:
                HYPERION CDS44121/36 (16-CD, budget)

                Budget Choice:
                Peter Hurford (organ)
                (recorded 1977-1981) (various instruments)
                LONDON 444 410-2 (17-CD, budget)

                Ensemble Choice:
                The Purcell Quartet
                (recorded 1997)
                CHANDOS CHAN 0654 (CD)

                  J.S. Bach: Cantata "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit", BWV.106

                  First Choice:
                  Ann Monoyios (soprano), Steven Rickards (countertenor), Edmund Brownless (tenor), Jan Opalach (bass), The Bach Ensemble, Joshua Rifkin (director)
                  (recorded 1985; c/w Cantatas: "Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir", BWV.131; "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan", BWV.99; "Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen", BWV.56; "Ich habe genug", BWV.82; "Der Friede sei mit dir", BWV.158)
                  DECCA 458 087-2 (2-CD, mid-price)

                  Choral recommendation:
                  Aki Yanagisawa (soprano), Yoshikazu Mera (countertenor), Gerd Türk (tenor), Peter Kooy (bass), Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki (director)
                  (recorded 1995; c/w Cantatas: "Gott ist mein Konig", BWV.71; "Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir", BWV.131)
                  BIS BIS-CD-781 (CD)

                    J.S. Bach: St Matthew Passion, BWV.244

                    First Choice:
                    Christine Schäfer (soprano), Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Bernarda Fink (contralto), Elisabeth von Magnus (contralto), Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Michael Schade (tenor), Markus Schäfer (tenor), Matthias Goerne (bass), Dietrich Henschel (bass), Oliver Widmer (bass), Vienna Boys' Choir, Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Vienna Concentus Musicus, Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)
                    (recorded 2000)
                    TELDEC 8573-81036-2 (3-CD - includes enhanced CD with full autograph score)

                    Mid-Price, Modern Instruments Choice:
                    Irmgard Seefried (soprano), Antonia Fahberg (soprano), Hertha Töpper (contralto), Ernst Haefliger (tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (bass), Kieth Engen (bass), Max Proebstl (bass), Munich Boys' Choir, Munich Bach Choir & Orchestra, Karl Richter (conductor)
                    (recorded 1958)
                    DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 463 635-2 (3-CD, mid-price)

                    Also available c/w St John Passion; Christmas Oratorio; Magnificat in D major; Mass in B minor; on:
                    DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 463 701-2 (10-CD, budget)

                    Joint Period Instruments Choices:
                    Barbara Schlick (soprano), Kai Wessel (contralto), Guy de Mey (tenor), Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Peter Kooy (bass), Klaus Mertens (bass), Netherlands Bach Society Choir, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Ton Koopman (conductor)
                    (recorded 1992)
                    ERATO 2292-45814-2 (3-CD - limited availability)
                    Also available c/w St John Passion; Mass in B minor; on:
                    ERATO 0630-16176-2 (7-CD, mid-price)

                    Monika Frimmer (soprano), Veronika Winter (soprano), Lena Susanne Norin (contralto), Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Wilfried Jochens (tenor), Klaus Mertens (bass), Hans-Georg Wimmer (bass), Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert, Hermann Max (conductor)
                    (recorded 1995)
                    CAPRICCIO 60 046-2 (2-CD)

                    Historic Recording Choice:
                    Pauline Brockless (soprano), Nancy Evans (mezzo-soprano), Eric Greene (tenor), Wilfred Brown (tenor), Gordon Clinton (bass baritone),
                    John Carol Case (bass baritone), Leith Hill Musical Festival Chorus & Orchestra, Ralph Vaughan Williams (conductor)
                    (recorded 1958)
                    PEARL GEMS 0079 (2-CD, mid-price)

                      J.S. Bach: Six Keyboard Partitas, BWV.825-830

                      First Choice: Christophe Rousset (harpsichord) L'OISEAU-LYRE 440 217-2 (2-CD)
                      (UNIVERSAL CLASSICS)

                      Mid-Price Choice: Scott Ross (harpsichord) ERATO ( ULTIMA) 3984 28167-2 (2-CD, mid-price)
                      (WARNER CLASSICS UK)

                      Historic Choice (of Partita No.1 only): EMI CDM 5 66988-2 (CD, mid-price)
                      Dinu Lipatti (piano)
                      (rec. 1950; c/w Chorale Preludes, BWV.599 & BWV.639;
                      Cantata BWV.147; Sonata for flute & harpsichord No.2,
                      BWV.1031; D.SCARLATTI Sonata in E, Kk.380; Sonata
                      in D minor, Kk.9 'Pastorale'; MOZART Sonata No.8 in
                      A minor, K.310; SCHUBERT Impromptu in G flat,
                      D.899 No.3; Impromptu in E flat, D.899 No.2)

                      Piano Alternative Recommendation: HYPERION CDA 67191/2 (2-CD)
                      Angela Hewitt (piano) (SELECT)

                        J.S. Bach: Violin Sonatas & Partitas, BWV.1001-1006

                        First Choice: Rachel Podger (baroque violin)

                        Partitas & Sonatas for Violin Solo, Vol.1 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS 12198 (CD)
                        [BWV.1001, 1002 & 1004] (rec. 1997/98) (KOCH INTERNATIONAL)

                        Partitas & Sonatas for Violin Solo, Vol.2 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS 14498 (CD)
                        [BWV.1003, 1005 & 1006] (rec. 1998/99) (KOCH INTERNATIONAL)

                          J.S.Bach: Cantata No.82 "Ich habe genug"

                          First Choice: Nancy Argenta (soprano), ACCENT 09026 61746-2 (CD)
                          Klaus Mertens (bass), Marcel Ponseele (oboe),
                          Hidemi Suzuki (cello), Pierre Hantaï (organ), La Petite
                          Bande, Sigiswald Kuijken (conductor)
                          (recorded 1993; c/w Cantatas 49 & 58)

                          Mid-Price Choice: Hans Hotter (baritone) EMI CDH7 63198-2 (CD)
                          Sidney Sutcliffe (oboe), Gerald Moore (piano), Geraint Jones (Mid-Price)
                          (organ), Philharmonia Orchestra, Anthony Bernard (conductor)
                          (recorded 1950 in Mono; c/w BRAHMS Four Serious Songs
                          Op.121)

                            J.S.Bach: Concerto for Oboe, Violin & Strings in Colin Lawson C minor BWV.1060

                            First Choice: Simon Standage (oboe), David Reichenberg ARCHIV 413 731-2 (CD)
                            (violin), The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock (director) IMS
                            (recorded 1984)

                            Highly Recommended: Tess Miller (oboe), Carmel DECCA 443 847-2
                            Kaine (violin), Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Neville (Special price - 2 CDs for the
                            Marriner (director) price of 1)
                            (recorded 1969)

                              J.S.Bach: Mass in B minor

                              First Choice: Emma Kirkby & Emily van Evera (sopranos), VIRGIN VERITAS VMD 5 61337-2 (CD)
                              Panito Iconomou (alto), Rogers Covet-Crump (tenor), (EMI) (mid-price)
                              David Thomas (bass), Taverner Consort and Players,
                              Andrew Parrott (conductor)
                              (recorded 1984)

                                J.S.Bach: Double Violin Concerto, BWV.1043

                                First Choice: Jascha Heifetz (violin), RCA 09026 61746-2 (CD)
                                Erick Friedman (violin), New Symphony Orchestra (BMG CONIFER) (mid-price)
                                of London, Sir Malcolm Sargent
                                (recorded 1961; c/w BRAHMS Double Concerto for
                                violin & cello; MOZART Sinfonia Concertante, K.364)

                                The above recording is also available as part of The RCA 09026 61779-2 (5-CD)
                                Heifetz Collection, Volumes 11-15: (BMG CONIFER) (mid-price)

                                Period Instrument Choice: Andrew Manze (violin/dir.), HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907155 (CD)
                                Rachel Podger (violin), The Academy of Ancient Music
                                (recorded 1996; c/w Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV.1041; N.B. due for reissue in April '99 on:
                                Violin Concerto in E, BWV.1042; Double Violin Concerto, HARMONIA MUNDI HMX 2907155 (CD)
                                BWV.1060)

                                  J.S.Bach: Six Solo Cello Suites, BWV.1007-1012

                                  First Choice: Pablo Casals (cello) EMI CHS 5 66215-2 (2-CD)
                                  (recorded 1936-39) (mid-price)

                                  The above recording is also available on: EMI CHS 7 61027-2 (2-CD)
                                  (mid-price)

                                  Modern Recording Choice: Yo-Yo Ma (cello) SONY CLASSICAL S2K 63203 (2-CD)
                                  (recorded 1994-97)

                                  Period Instrument Choice: Jaap ter Linden (baroque HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907216/17 (2-CD)
                                  cello) (recorded 1996)

                                    J.S.Bach: Magnificat in D major, BWV.243

                                    First Choice: Emily van Evera (soprano), VIRGIN CLASSICS VM 5 61340-2 (CD)
                                    Emma Kirkby (soprano), Evelyn Tubb (mezzo-soprano), (EMI) (mid-price)
                                    Caroline Trevor (contralto), Margaret Cable
                                    (mezzo-soprano), Howard Crook (tenor), Wilfried
                                    Jochens (tenor), Simon Grant (bass), Stephen
                                    Charlesworth (baritone), Taverner Consort and Players,
                                    Andrew Parrott
                                    (recorded 1989; c/w Ascension Oratorio, BWV.11/249b)

                                    Historical Choice: Maria Stader (soprano), DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 439 489-2 (CD)
                                    Hertha Topper (contralto), Ernst Haefliger (tenor), (budget)
                                    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone),
                                    Munich Bach Chorus & Orchestra, Karl Richter
                                    (recorded 1961; c/w Cantata for the 1st Day of Christmas,
                                    BWV.63; Cantata for the Feast of Epiphany)

                                      J.S. Bach: French Suites, BWV.812-817

                                      First Choice (harpsichord version): KONTRAPUNKT 32103/4 (2-CD)
                                      Lars Ulrik Mortensen (DISCOVERY RECORDS)
                                      (c/w Suite in A minor, BWV.818a;
                                      Suite in E flat major, BWV.819a)

                                      Piano recommendation: Angela Hewitt HYPERION CDA 67121/2 (2-CD)
                                      (c/w Sonata in D minor, BWV.964; (SELECT)
                                      Six Little Preludes, BWV.924-928; BWV.933-938;
                                      BWV.939-943, 999; etc.)

                                        J.S. Bach: St. John Passion, BWV.245

                                        First Choice: Nancy Argenta, ARCHIV 419 324-2 (2-CD)
                                        Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Stephen Varcoe, (POLYGRAM)
                                        Michael Chance, Monteverdi Choir,
                                        English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner

                                          J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio

                                          First Choice: Nancy Argenta, ARCHIV
                                          423 232-2 (2-CD) 23/24.12.95
                                          Anne Sofie von Otter, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, (POLYGRAM)
                                          Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists,
                                          John Eliot Gardiner

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