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Bach: Complete Keyboard Concertos (Decca Collectors Edition) Box set

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Composer: Bach
  • Audio CD (6 Sept. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B003Y3MYX6
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,485 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Disc 3
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Disc 4
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Product Description

Product Description

On this specially priced 4-CD definitive collection distinguished pianist András Schiff performs these fourteen great concertos, directing the Chamber Orchestra Of Europe and Camerata Bern from the piano.

The recording also includes a new booklet essay by Lindsay Kemp

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I would not complain about the quality of the recoding but I would not rate it as low as another reviewer did. They were made in 1989 (CD1,2) 1993 (CD3), 1997 (CD3,4), so the quality is not as good as some achieve nowadays' but it is quite good.

My major gripe is the interpretation. In general, I find Mr. Schiff's approach to Bach's music to be more metronome-based rather than anything else. I've listened to quite a few of his recordings, e.g. WTC, Partitas, Goldberg Variations, Inventions. Not all of them are equally unemotional but the concertos recorded on these disks are (some are less than others, e.g. Italian on CD3). More so, sometimes, piano sounds not like a concerto instrument but rather too much removed to the background part of basso continuo group, e.g. in No.6. Maybe this could be partially blamed on the recording engineers who got the balance wrong.

Perhaps this recording could serve as a starting point for someone who never heard these pieces, as Andras performs them in a fairly neutral way. For more cognisant, I recommend Perahia's recording on Sony Bach: Keyboard Concertos No.3, 5, 6,7, Nikolaeva's on Melodiya or Russian disk, or, the most 'refreshing' rendition for me, Yuji Takahashi's Nos.1,4,5 on Denon Bach: Klavierkonzerte No. 1/4/5, let alone idiosyncratic Gould's.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I admire Schiff's playing greatly. He seems to me to play a duet with himself. I know no other player like Schiff. The left hand seems to listen to the right and the right to the left. Distinct contributions but perfect accord. But here the recording more than lets down the performance; the recording is so bad that it is impossible to judge the merits of the performance. It grieves me to say that there is no pleasure to be had from playing these discs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x951165c4) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95084618) out of 5 stars Not quite complete, but very nicely performed 26 Oct. 2010
By Virginia Opera Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This set bills itself as the "Complete Keyboard Concertos." This isn't strictly accurate as the fifth Brandenburg concerto BWV 1050 (possibly the prototype of the form) is missing as is the Concerto in A minor for four keyboards, BWV 1065, after Vivaldi. The omissions are curious as the set includes the A Minor Triple Concerto for keyboard, flute and violin, BWV 1044 (which may be an arrangement by one of Bach's sons) and the BWV 1057 re-working of the fourth Brandenburg concerto for keyboard and two flutes.

That caveat out of the way, the performances offer stiff competition to competing sets on the modern concert grand featuring Hewitt, Gavrilov, Gould (single keyboard concertos only) and Perahia (ditto). Schiff's performances allow the polyphony of the solo parts to be heard clearly and are filled with nice florishes and embellishments. The orchestral accompaniment is alert under Schiff's direction from the keyboard. The orchestra doesn't include a dedicated continuo keyboard or theorbo as do some of the rivals sets. The early '90s digital sound has held up well. The notes do not mention whether re-mastering is involved but given the patent/copyright dates, I suspect these are the same masterings that appeared on the original CDs. Played through a 24 bit/192khz DAC they sound very natural.

At Decca's pricing for the 4 disc set and the discounts from that list offered by many Amazon sellers, this is a good value for anyone looking for these concertos played on modern instruments, despite the two omissions.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9508466c) out of 5 stars not very emotionally involving interpretation 18 July 2012
By Roman Golubev - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I reviewed it on amazon.co.uk but somehow the product on both sites is the same but reviews are unique for each site. So I reproduce it here. I would not complain about the quality of the recoding but I would not rate it as low as another reviewer did. They were made in 1989 (CD1,2) 1993 (CD3), 1997 (CD3,4), so the quality is not as good as some achieve nowadays but it is quite good.

My major gripe is the interpretation. In general, I find Mr. Schiff's approach to Bach's music to be more metronome-based rather than anything else. I've listened to quite a few of his recordings, e.g. WTC, Partitas, Goldberg Variations, Inventions. Not all of them are equally unemotional but the concertos recorded on these disks are (some are less than others, e.g. Italian on CD3). More so, sometimes, piano sounds not like a concerto instrument but rather too much removed to the background part of basso continuo group, e.g. in No.6. Maybe this could be partially blamed on the recording engineers who got the balance wrong.

Perhaps this recording could serve as a starting point for someone who never heard these pieces, as Andras performs them in a fairly neutral way. For more cognisant, I recommend Perahia's recording on Sony Plays Bach Concertos, Nikolaeva's on Melodiya or Russian disk, or, the most 'refreshing' rendition for me, Yuji Takahashi's Nos.1,4,5 on Denon http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000FGG1XY, let alone idiosyncratic Gould's.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x957c4e88) out of 5 stars good solo concerti, excellent twos and threes 9 Sept. 2012
By Jon Miller ('Kirk') - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Schiff plays the solo concerti very well-clean articulation, good tempi, sufficient gravity in the slow movements (especially in F Minor and D Minor). I find his embellishments a bit overdone and would like a bit
more drive in some of the outer movements. On the other hand, some of the mellowness is welcome after the hard-driven but
sometimes more exciting sets led by Zoltan Kocsis (with Schiff as the second pianist in the double concerti)
Here the double concerti receive a boost from the great Peter Serkin
(who should do a solo set himself-I heard him perform an excellent D minor concerto at Caramoor a few years ago). The triple concerti with Bruno Canino are also fine, but in them I miss the added joy and drive of the
triples on Sony with the two Serkins and Horszowski-PLEASE RERELEASE THESE,SONY. Also excellent are the Ristenpart multiples in his multi-cd Bach anthology, the shining star of which is the exultant, unforgettable reading
of the triple concerto BWV1064 in the version for three violins.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x959708ac) out of 5 stars Good Performances, Poor Sound 27 Dec. 2012
By The Count - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I like Andras Schiff's approach to JS Bach a lot -- I can listen to his recordings of the French Suites and English Suites endlessly. This is great music, at a great price, but the recording sounds muffled, like there was a heavy curtain between the piano and the microphone. The first time I played the first CD, I thought it was faulty, but the entire set is that way.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95084b34) out of 5 stars Mostly delightful, sometimes unsuccessful 16 Oct. 2014
By M. Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a very fine collection of performances of (most of) Bach's keyboard concertos. Andras Schiff has a well-earned reputation for being one of the greatest interpreters of Bach on the piano, and these performances are, for the most part, well-up to that reputation.

As a rule, I prefer historically-informed performances of Bach's orchestral and concertante ouevre, though I generally lean more toward the modern piano for his solo keyboard music. Schiff, Glenn Gould, Sviatoslav Richter, and others have made a strong case for that. As a music historian, I am fairly certain that the master would have composed for the piano had the opportunity presented itself -- indeed, he had invested in an early fortepiano design near the end of his life. My favourite recordings of the harpsichord concertos is Trevor Pinnock's with the English Concert (also available as a boxed set).

Having said that, there is a lot to like about these performances. Schiff's deft touch and incomparable phrasing make the solo concertos an absolute delight. He COULD have played them like 19th-century piano concertos -- all passion and strong left hand, with the pedal down for every run of eighth notes -- or he COULD have played them like Gould, as if the piano was just a harpsichord with hammers. But he does neither.Rather, he finds a comfortable middle ground, exploiting the dynamics of his instrument to bring out the subtle voicing in the solo parts. His slow movement in BWV 1056, for example, is just brilliant.

The double and triple concertos, however, are much less successful. The musicianship of Schiff, Peter Serkin, and Bruno Canino is outstanding, and they approach their parts in a way that brings out their own personalities, and the personalities of the parts. But while a single piano sits comfortably in Bach's orchestrations, two, and three often overpower the forces of the chamber orchestra. I enjoyed the flutes in BWV 1057, but the voicing of a modern, silver transverse flute loses much of the subtlety of the original recorders (compare with Philip Pickett and Rachel Beckett in Pinnock's version).

Finally, the strings sound a little overly-lush and highly-polished for my taste. I'm reasonably certain that this is because I tend to listen to HIP performances of Bach, and modern stringed instruments tend to smooth-out much of the abrasive, cutting charm of period instruments. On the other hand, I do recognize that a performance of these concertos with period strings and modern pianos would bee ridiculously unbalanced. The orchestra is fine -- quite good, in fact -- but lacks the kind of subtlety that makes Bach's strings transcendent rather than merely delightful.

... But delightful is good. This would not be my first choice for the keyboard concertos, but it is certainly a worthy supplement to Pinnock's andGustav Leonhardt's performances.
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