Along with Erato, Teldec, Archiv Produktion, BIS and others, Hänssler Classic is one of the many record labels commemorating the 250th death anniversary of the composer. No company, however, comes close to the extent which the Hänssler Bach Edition aims to cover. To be fully issued by June 2000, the EDITION BACHAKADEMIE comprises 172 CDs covering the complete known, surviving and playable music by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The recordings span the last three decades of the 20th century. Many are thus of considerable age, some dating as far back as the 1970s. The cantata cycle recorded by eminent Bach scholar Helmuth Rilling features such “older generation” names as the singers Arleen Augr, Helen Watts, Ann Murray, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Schreier, among others. Newer recordings, however, have also been added to the Edition, including fresh takes on the Mass in B minor (reviewed here, the Christmas Oratorio and the secular cantatas.

All the CDs are being re-issued at mid-price, and are available separately or as part of a subscription. From July 2000, it will also be made available as a complete set. More details can be found at the Hänssler Classic website.

The Choral Music, including the Complete Cantatas
Sporting new notes (and well-written they are by Andreas Bomba), Helmuth Rillings 1970s-80s cycle of “complete” church cantatas has been recompiled in chronological order, available in a series of single CDs. To this has been added the secular cantatas, the large-scale sacred works and a miscellany that includes the short masses and more. In the elderly recordings, the style and quality are presented a whole new world of challenge in the face of newer cycles by Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque (Erato), the Bach Collegium Japan (BIS), and others. Rilling’s avoidance of period style and instruments in his cycle, but coupled with the spiritual mission to capture the essence of Bach, produces mixed but often enlightening results, and is worth exploring, especially when here we are given the opportunity to see how Bach performance has evolved from the 1970s through the 1990s under one single group of performers.

With the Gchinger Kantorei (choir) and the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart, leading singers of today have joined in the celebration. Among them are: Christine Schfer, Sibylla Rubens, Ingeborg Danz, Michael Schade, James Taylor, Matthias Goerne, Andreas Schmidt, Thomas Quasthoff and others.

Volumes reviewed at The Flying Inkpot:

Keyboard Music
For Bachs music for keyboard, the Edition is coordinated by American (forte)pianist and musicologist Robert Levin, who also recorded The Well-Tempered Clavier and the English Suites. Robert Hill recorded the early works. Both use a range of instruments, which include among them a rare lute-piano, for which Bach wrote several compositions. The award-winning recording of the Goldberg Variations played by Evgeni Koroliov also graces the Edition:

Volumes reviewed at The Flying Inkpot:

Organ Works
The Complete Music for Organ were recorded under the direction of Kay Johannsen, a leading organ authority, on a number of different organs, both historic and contemporary, including various artists such as Wolfgang Zerer, Bine-Katrine Bryndorf, Andrea Marcon and Martin Lcker.

Chamber Music
Soloists from the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart will be performing Bachs chamber music, including flutist Jean-Claude Grard and the oboist Ingo Goritzki, who recorded the reconstructed oboe concertos. The Complete Solo Partitas and Suites for Violin were recorded by violinist Dmitri Sitkovetsky. The Edition also features the Gamba Sonatas with Hille Perl, Violin Sonatas with Sitkovetsky, Cello Suites with Boris Pergamenschikow and more.

Orchestral Music
New recordings of the harpsichord concertos with Robert Levin and Robert Hill are being prepared. Rilling’s enjoyable accounts of the Orchestral Suites with the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra is already available.

Volumes reviewed at The Flying Inkpot:

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661: 27.2.2000 Flying Inkpot


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