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 Search Beat > The Music Beat > Classical Music > Featured Composer > Johann Sebastian Bach > Solo Music Recommendations


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Glenn Gould Edition - Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier I
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Glenn Gould
Sony Classics - #52600 / January 11, 1994

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It's rather amazing today, when recordings of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier practically fall of the shelves, to recall just how unusual it was back in the 1960s for a pianist to undertake to record this amazing work. It's probably fair to say that until Glenn Gould got his fingers around it, Bach's music was used for teaching purposes more than anything else. What Gould proves in this essential set is that Bach is decidedly not just a threat to hold over the head of budding pianists but a joy to...Read more


Bach: The 6 Cello Suites / Pablo Casals
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Pablo Casals
Emd/Emi Classics - #66215 / September 16, 1997

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Casals crusaded for this music. When he first picked up a used copy of the score in a music store, Bach was not very popular with general audiences, and the cello suites were never played in public. If cellists knew them at all, they used them as finger exercises. After two decades of study, Casals finally gave his first public performances of the suites. For all we know, they may have been the world premieres. Casals thoroughly mastered the music, and by the time he made his recordings, in the...Read more


Bach: Organ Toccatas & Passacaglia / Christopher Herrick

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Christopher Herrick
Hyperion (UK) - #66434 / January 7, 1991

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"Toccata" comes from the Italian word meaning "to play an instrument," and the form itself is nothing more than a written-out improvisation of what an organist would be expected to do when called upon to test a new instrument. First, you try out the action of the keyboard with rapid scales and runs, then you see how loud, sustained chords sound, and finally you settle down to a more formal fugue, which lets you construct a large musical form and employ different mixtures of...Read more


Bach: Complete Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin / Grumiaux

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Arthur Grumiaux
Uni/Philips - #38736 / February 15, 1994

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Arthur Grumiaux was among the most elegant and refined violinists who ever recorded. This doesn't preclude his playing the famous Chaconne with lots of power, which he does. But it means hearing Bach with all technical difficulties minimized to give you a clear view of the music. Sometimes, as in Joseph Szigeti's late recordings (Vanguard Classics OVC 8021/2), there is a sense of struggle between the violin and the music that for more dramatic Bach. Grumiaux allows you to hear everything Bach...Read more


Bach: Goldberg Variations BWV 988 / Pierre Hantaï
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Pierre Hantaï
Opus 111 (Fra) - #2024 / April 11, 2000

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For all the progress period instruments have made in cornering the market in modern performances of Bach, the piano keeps a strong presence in the solo keyboard works--particularly the Goldberg Variations. It seems that (arrangements for other instruments aside) the most talked-about performances of the Goldbergs--say, András Schiff, Rosalyn Tureck, Angela Hewitt, and the endlessly debated Glenn Gould--are on piano. Except for this one. Ever since it was first released in 1993, Pierre...Read more


Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge BWV 1080 / Marie-Claire Alain
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer: Marie-Claire Alain
Wea/Atlantic/Erato - #91946 / July 6, 1993

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Everything about The Art of Fugue is controversial. Did Bach finish it or not? If not, should a completion be attempted, or should the finale fugue be left in its unfinished state? What order should the various pieces be played in? Where they intended to be listened to at all? And if "yes," what instrument would Bach have preferred? The answers to all of these questions are: "We don't know, and it really doesn't matter." Supremely practical musician that he was, Bach never...Read more



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