This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Lively, brisk, stylish and highly polished these readings certainly are. A fascinating and stimulating release.
This new release of Bach's four orchestral suites, BWV1066/9, together with a fifth, completes a project with Musica Antiqua began in 1982. In that year the group recorded the B minor Suite, BWV1067 (with one instrument to a part) and the spurious Suite in G minor, once in the possession of Bach's eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, who might also have been its composer. It has been handed down in copies of score and parts by Christian Friedrich Penzel who also copied Bach's Suites Nos. 2, 3 and 4.
In an interesting note accompanying both the CD and LP formats, Reinhard Goebel explains that in the
years between 1982 and the completion of the recordings in 1985 his ideas about how to perform the music have changed. Taking an extreme view of his stance he considers the earlier essay in style as amongst the sins of his youth, further illustrating the painful path of progress with a reference to A la recherche du temps perdu. Fortunately, perhaps, the analogy with Proust extends no further than the title of his great work, for I think we should soon be in deep and muddy waters. Much of Goebel's new thinking is influenced by the writings of the American musicologist, Frederick Neumann and, in particular, those passages concerned with dotted rhythms. Some of the points are not presented clearly and these are truisms concerning 'authenticity', but in spite of an occasional feeling that Goebel is ousting one set of dogma for another, his essay comes over as thoughtful and constructive.
All this might suggest that there are sweeping and irreconcilable differences between Musica Antiqua performances and others which we have encountered in recent years. Not so, for whilst Goebel does largely put his ideas into practice it is in details of phrase and of articulation that his readings provide the most interesting comparisons with his competitors. First of all I must confess to taking a rather different view from Goebel of his account of the B minor Suite. If this is, indeed, a peche de jeunesse, then there is little or nothing to be ashamed of. The phrases are beautifully shaped, the tempos nicely judged and the instrumental textures effectively clear. Wilbert Hazelzet, the solo flautist, is a player whom I have often admired for sensitive interpretation and fine technique, and in neither respect does he falter in this instance.
In the remaining three suites the string forces of the ensemble are considerably augmented with four first and four second violins, three violas, two cellos, a violone and two harpsichords. The disposition in all four suites corresponds precisely with that of The English Concert on its Archiv Produktion recordings of the same works four years ago and more. As we have come to expect from the Cologne Musica Antiqua, the solo, concertino and ripieno playing is of a very high order; and it needs to be since some of Goebel's tempos make what occasionally sound to me like ultimate demands on his wind players; the second Bourree of Suite No. 4 provides an instance of a woodwind high-wire act during which one's heart is elevated to the mouth.
The string playing is impeccably clean and often warmer in tone than I have sometimes found with this group. In its shaping of individual notes and of phrases these performances are probably more immaculate than any that I have previously heard, yet that alone has certainly not proved enough for me to switch my allegiance wholeheartedly to it. Lively, brisk, stylish and highly polished these readings certainly are; they afford many delightful and convincing views of Bach's music notably, perhaps, in the first two suites and in the lyrical account of the Air from the Third Suite. I am, nevertheless, at times conscious of a severity of outlook, a rigidity of temperament if not of interpretation which does not accord with the 'occasional' and often jubilant spirit of the music. I do not wish to dilute the virtues of this issue, which are considerable, but I would sound a warning bell in earshot of anyone tempted to regard it as preferable to others based on comparable tenets of performing style merely on the grounds of its polished executancy. Pinnock's version, for example, though less immaculate seems to me to capture the spirit of Suite No. 4 more positively than the new one; and John Eliot Gardiner (Erato) offers affectionate accounts of Suites Nos. 1 and 2, which I enjoyed when I recently reviewed them.
The recorded sound is clear and pleasantly resonant though I was too conscious of harpsichord continuo from time to time. All Bach's repeats are observed throughout this fascinating and stimulating release which can be warmly and confidently recommended.
-- Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone [10/1986]
Works on This Recording
Overture for Strings in G minor, BWV 1070 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Musica Antiqua Cologne
Notes: This work is now attributed to Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.
Suite for Orchestra no 2 in B minor, BWV 1067 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Musica Antiqua Cologne
Written: 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany
Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1738 - 1739).
Featured Sound Samples
Suite for Orchestra no 1: IV. Forlane
Suite for Orchestra no 3: II. Air
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