Bach Masterworks / Original Jackets Collection
The emphasis here is on great recordings from both the DG and Archiv labels – so that Claudio Abbado’s Brandenburgs, Thomas Quasthoff’s cantatas, Maurizio Pollini’s Well-tempered Clavier and Ivo Pogorelich’s English Suites all appear, as well as period-performances from John Eliot Gardiner, Paul McCreesh and Trevor Pinnock. The contents are arranged by BWV (Bach catalogue) numbers, which places the cantatas and major choral works first, before moving onto keyboard (organ and harpsichord/piano) and chamber, then the orchestral (concerto) works before drawing to a close with “studies and canons” – in other words, those supreme masterworks The Musical Offering (Musica Antiqua Köln under Reinhard Goebel) and The Art of Fugue (Pierre-Laurent Aimard). No area of Bach’s output is ignored. There are even Lute Suites and Sacred Songs from the Schemelli Songbook. Plus a Decca / L’Oiseau-lyre classic: The Peasant and Coffee Cantatas sung by Emma Kirkby and David Thomas under Christopher Hogwood. Hard to explain, but there are no recordings of these works available on the DG or Archiv labels (rights to the Richter recordings of the works reverted to VEB when the Wall came down). ARTISTS & RECORDINGS On the DG side, look out for Abbado’s fleet-footed Brandenburgs (with Giuliano Carmignola as first violin), Pogorelich’s English Suites (his A minor Prelude is unsurpassed, his sarabandes are something else), Kathleen Battle’s perfect selection of arias with obbligato violin (Itzhak Perlman! – in the high-price catalogue for nearly 30 years) and Mischa Maisky’s Gamba Sonatas (played on Cello), with Martha Argerich a scintillating partner (she also contributes a memorable piano recital). Archiv remains to the fore with Gardiner’s St. John Passion and Christmas Oratorio and Paul McCreesh’s St. Matthew Passion; Trevor Pinnock is prominent on keyboard with the Harpsichord Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, while Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua stand out in The Musical Offering and the Violin Sonatas. Organ works are split between Helmut Walcha, Karl Richter and Simon Preston – three great organists representing both labels. Classics like the Pierre Fournier Cello Suites (issued both on Archiv and Deutsche Grammophon in their time) and Nathan Milstein’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin also underline the labels’ great Bach tradition.