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 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.