Comparing Performances

As our listing of Bach performances grows, it is interesting to compare their interpretation, production values and of course, the performers. Not surprisingly, I wrestle with the choice of performances to include. Even when limited by the availability of video performances on Youtube or Vimeo, I’m overwhelmed by the abundance of performances of popular compositions.

For example, here are three performances of the Brandenburg Concerto No 4 (BWV1049). Which do you prefer?

  • Is the Freiburg Orchestra a bit “staid” and serious?
  • What do you think of Shunske Sato’s performance on the NBS version?
  • Have you ever seen four recorders as in the Voices of Music version (from 6:45)?

Would love to hear from you -(email mh at – Marius

A 15 year old recording by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (more info):

A recent Netherlands Bach Society recording (more info):

A US ensemble, Voices of Music (more info)

Bach: A Passionate Life

Really enjoyed watching ” Bach: A Passionate Life”, where John Eliot Gardiner goes in search of Bach the man and the musician. Worth an hour and a half of your time.

Bach v Bach

As I delve deeper into the world of Bach recordings, the subtleties of performances and their recording come to the fore. The efforts of the J.S.Bach Foundation and the Netherlands Bach Society have set a high bar for the production values of their recordings as well as musical excellence.

Sofar, I’ve been reluctant to include part-recordings in our listings, however the above recording of BWV36, featuring the excellent Nuria Rial (soprano) and John Holloway (violin), was just too good. And of course there is an AllofBach version to compare…

While the artistry of Rial and Holloway is hard to beat, the AllofBach video production really shines.  For example, in the video above, the Cello player never appears ‘in shot’ and I found it distracting to have an idle Martin Stadler overlooking the violin solo.

The great joy of attending a live concert is to let your eyes wonder and focus on individual performers at a whim. The AllofBach videos seem to understand my whims… and make me feel I’m there.

The bottom line, however, is that we have a abundance of wonderful recordings to enjoy and that both the ‘Foundation’ and the ‘Society’ are setting a very high bar with the quality of their performances. I love it.


Bach and the Lutheran Legacy

BachDocoSimon Russell Beale explores the flowering of Western sacred music. With music performed by The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers, Beale explores how Martin Luther, himself a composer, had a profound effect on the development of sacred music, re-defining the role of congregational singing and the use of the organ in services. Ultimately, these reforms would shape the world of JS Bach and inspire him to write some of the greatest sacred music.

BBC documentary on Vimeo

Keeping up the detail

Over the past week, I’ve doubled the number of listings, so now we have almost 100 different recordings listed (yeah!).
titlesOne continuing challenge is to identify the details of all performers. Unfortunately, most credits display only solo artists and it’s an almost impossible task to identify all players. The Brandenburg Concertos by the Freiburger Barockorchester as a good (bad…) example of this.

As this site attracts more visitors, I hope to be able to ‘crowd-source’ more details about the performers.  For the moment, I’ll do my best to identify as many as possible.