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Ouvertures - Bach: Orchestral Suites / Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan


Release Date: 10/25/2005 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1431   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masaaki SuzukiNatsumi WakamatsuMasamitsu San'nomiyaLiliko Maeda
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


These performances are magnificent, and offering two SACDs for the price of one makes them a good deal too. There have been many fine recordings of these works, naturally, but few offer this much satisfaction on purely sonic terms--not just the engineering, which is state-of-the-art in both stereo and multi-channel formats, but the actual textures and colors that Masaaki Suzuki coaxes from his ensemble. In truth, it's difficult to make this music sound well. On modern instruments, trumpets and drums tend to muddy the textures without penetrating as they should. Period instruments, on the other hand,
Read more offer a variety of problems, including a routinely clattery and overbearing harpsichord continuo, scruffy strings that make the famous "Air" sound positively anorexic, and iffy flute intonation in the B minor suite.


Miraculously, Suzuki has solved all of these problems. His harpsichord is clear but pleasant-toned and discretely balanced. The strings have sufficient body and richness of tone to compete successfully with the oboes and cushion the trumpets and drums in the two works that require them. Textures are wonderfully transparent, and rhythms are ideally clear. The arrangement of the works, with the two big D major suites framing the other two, and the "flute suite" performed with solo strings, makes excellent sense and offers maximum contrast for continuous listening. In this latter work, Liliko Maeda is a terrific soloist, pure in timbre and gifted with the ability to really make the music dance--nowhere more so than in the famous concluding Badinerie, so often mercilessly breathy and rushed, but here the very embodiment of sly wit.


Suzuki's handling of all four initial overtures deserves special mention. He catches the regal, aristocratic quality of the music as have few others, evoking the spirit of Handel (as in the Royal Fireworks Music) as much as Bach. That doesn't mean his tempos are slow or lethargic--far from it. But the music has gravitas and a bigness of conception that's so often missing from period-instrument performances, particularly from the "less is more" school (for the record, Suzuki has six violins, and two each of violas and cellos). Nothing sounds rushed, not even the lively central episodes, which are always gracefully phrased as well as full of energy. In the D major suites, the trumpets and timpani cut through the texture as they should, but Suzuki makes their parts fit logically into their surroundings rather than encouraging the usual, overbearing "screech, blast, and bang" that so often passes for period style.


The various dances are also extremely well characterized, with tempos excellently chosen to emphasize the rhythmic qualities of each. The famous "Air" from the Third suite is serene but never static. The bourées have a nicely physical quality to the rhythm, while the Second suite's Sarabande is wonderfully supple and elegant. The program concludes with a smashing Réjouissance from the Fourth suite, a telling reminder of the fact that Bach conceived these pieces as courtly entertainment. In other words, Suzuki does more than just play the music very well: he evokes its purpose, social milieu, and lavishness of content in such a way that brings the listener as close as possible to Bach himself, and to the circles in which he worked. In this oft-recorded repertoire, that is a tremendous achievement. [9/28/2005]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Suite for Orchestra no 3 in D major, BWV 1068 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord), Natsumi Wakamatsu (Violin), Masamitsu San'nomiya (Oboe)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 23 Minutes 24 Secs. 
2. Suite for Orchestra no 1 in C major, BWV 1066 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masamitsu San'nomiya (Oboe), Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord), Natsumi Wakamatsu (Violin)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Length: 26 Minutes 34 Secs. 
3. Suite for Orchestra no 2 in B minor, BWV 1067 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Liliko Maeda (Flute), Masamitsu San'nomiya (Oboe), Natsumi Wakamatsu (Violin),
Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 24 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1738 - 1739). 
4. Suite for Orchestra no 4 in D major, BWV 1069 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masamitsu San'nomiya (Oboe), Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord), Natsumi Wakamatsu (Violin)
Conductor:  Masaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
Length: 23 Minutes 55 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Overture (Suite) No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: I. Overture
Overture (Suite) No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: II. Air
Overture (Suite) No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: III. Gavotte I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: IV. Bourree
Overture (Suite) No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: V. Gigue
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066: I. Overture
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066: II. Courante
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066: III. Gavotte I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066: IV. Forlane
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066: V. Menuet I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066: VI. Bourree I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066: VII. Passepied I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: I. Overture
Overture (Suite) No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: II. Rondeau
Overture (Suite) No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: III. Sarabande
Overture (Suite) No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: IV. Bourree I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: V. Polonaise - Double - Polonaise
Overture (Suite) No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: VI. Menuet
Overture (Suite) No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067: VII. Badinerie
Overture (Suite) No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069: I. Overture
Overture (Suite) No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069: II. Bourree I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069: III. Gavotte
Overture (Suite) No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069: IV. Menuet I-II-I
Overture (Suite) No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069: V. Rejouissance

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