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on 6 October 2011
I have just one regret about this purchase, namely that I wish I had bought it sooner. There are many years' pleasure to be derived from these brilliant recordings. I am listening to one of the harpischord concertos/concerti as I write this, and I do wish I had had this recording a year ago. In sum, this is a wonderful set of recordings (plus the scores on a DVD) that will enrich your life.
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on 15 August 2011
My father died over 40 years ago. He spent the last ten years of his life buying LPs of J S Bach recordings at £2 each, equivalent to a day's pay then, whenever he could afford them. I still have his LPs and they number just a fraction of this superb collection which can be bought for a tiny proportion of the sums my father paid. How he would have loved this, as I do. A must for everyone who likes J S Bach.
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on 25 February 2011
I can only echo the other reviewers here. This set is amazing value. I'm not familiar with Bachs Canatatas or Organ works, but am enjoying what I've heard so far. This set is the perfect excuse to indulge in new listening experiences at very little financial risk. The recordings all seem fine and as I'm no expert all the musicians also manage to convey the music in an enjoyable way. I like the choir in the cantatas and also the sound, they may not be, as others have said, out of the top drawer but are more that adequate as far as I'm concerned.
I didn't care for the dvds but the dvd rom is well worth loading onto your computer. The websites are very handy for a novice listener.
The title of the review sums it up for me.
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on 24 January 2011
I have been listening to the cantatas for many years and have tried performances by many different artists. I purchased the earlier version of these about 10 years ago and to my mind they are overall by far the best. The performances are natural, the recordings of a good standard and at this price they are a steal. If this seems to be too much try smaller amounts. The Brilliant label does smaller ranges of cantatas that are here on Amazon
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on 9 May 2015
It's a bargain, but I found that I am not a lover of cantatas or a lover of the harpsichord so I enjoy only about a third of the CDs in this huge box. Maybe I will learn to enjoy them in the future : )
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on 15 February 2014
A superb box set this for the price.
Do not listen too much to people quibbling about slight variations in quality of the singing, it is very slight and very occasional.
The musicians are generally of a very good standard indeed.
We can get over picky and a bit snobby sometimes and the Complete Bach for £71 quid is an absolutely awesome deal!
The way I see it is let the music itself sing out!.

I have been listening to Bach for 45 years now ,since I was a boy; this box set allows me to investigate so much new work it is an absolute joy. I am 1/3 of the way through the Cantatas, many of which I have never heard before.
I agree that pieces could have been put in a better order by BWV. But music is the thing after all.

Re the (very) slight variations in quality.
1. they are slight... no howlers I have heard as yet.

2.The energy is generally very good (although I am not an expert and tempo, dynamics , tunings... surely it is often a matter of personal reading research of the MD.

3. The Master, Bach himself would have had to adapt to variable resources when leading performances himself sometimes I imagine. E.g. Often with insufficient rehearsal (as many of these were only played once or twice for specific occasions), or the lead tenor having a cold, lesser singers having to double parts outside their range.... it doesn`t really matter. the quality of the music overrides all these little variations.
To my mind if the occasional voice sounds a little reedy for example (which is not often at all) this should not in any way interfere with the enjoyment of the music itself. For example just imagine you are in Bach`s own church one wet Sunday morning and it all comes to life... this is heavenly human music sung by humans ;which is the point about Bach`s work and passion really is it not ?
So I would argue that little variations do not have to distract me from the wonderful music itself.
I started listening to the violin partita`s played by a non top flight musician on a crackly old 10 inch disc bought from a charity shop for 10p in my twenties and found the music transcendent in spite of crackles and thumps of the disc... the music sang out.

Buy this set at this amazing price and then after you have discovered an extra special piece of work you like you can go out and try other versions by more premier `name` musicians.
But you need to discover it first and this set is a perfect way to do this.
Thanks to the Netherlander musicians for recording these complete works, it must have been a major undertaking... well done to them.
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on 6 May 2011
I've so far heard about half of the CDs in the box and they all have been of uniformly high standard, both as regards performance and recording.

I would recommend this box without hesitation to anyone wanting Bach's complete works.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 30 January 2014
I've got to give this five stars, for several reasons: 1) There's so much great music here 2) The value is terrific 3) Lots of the recordings are terrific 4) This kind of combines points 1 & 2, but it's also a point in itself: this is Bach's complete works.

There are reasons why some, me included, might want to dock points: there are different recordings of almost all the contents which may, in side-by-side comparisons, be preferred for any number of reasons, from instrumentation, to interpretation, to audio-quality, or even packaging and info; one might even consider it 'too much', even if too much of a good thing; the nature of the set has resulted in the usual accompanying info, from texts to critical commentary and even scores, being included as PDFs, rather than hard copy.

I'm no expert in classical music, and probably never will be. But I do know that I have liked a lot of the Bach I've heard, and when I bought this, a little while ago now, I already had a growing Bach section on the CD-shelves. It was when I was contemplating getting a complete organ works set that I decided instead to get this. It wasn't that much more than the several complete organ works sets I was looking at, and yet it contained so very, very much more.

There are some quibbles in certain areas - some audible and to my ears distracting 'snuffling' in some of the Jakob Lindberg Lute recordings, for example - or the fact that endless recordings of certain repertoire on the same instruments can tire the ear somewhat. For example, the keyboard works across a large swathe of CDs are all performed on a particular instrument, rather than on a number of different types. I have some of the same repertoire performed not only on different type of keyboard, but even totally different instruments. This must've been quite a tricky thing to decide, but it appears that Brilliant Classics chose to be simple and consistent, and play everything on period instruments (I haven't looked into this; this is just a guess based on the sounds of the recordings).

Comparing this set with an incomplete but similarly large Vivaldi set (40 CDs, as opposed to the 160 discs here) that I bought for my wife, has been interesting. Slightly to my own surprise, we both get more consistent enjoyment from the Vivaldi. We get plenty from the Bach set too, and there is material in both sets, more in the Bach set, unsurprisingly, that we still haven't heard. But ultimately it leaves me finding the Vivaldi a more simple, immediate and consistent pleasure, whereas the Bach set, capable of giving equal pleasure at times, feels like a more serious, even scholarly, affair.

There's so much to dip into, whether to study intently or simply to have on in the background, or whatever the occasion seems to require. This Christmas we had our first listen to his 'Weihnachts-Oratorium', and it was both interesting and enjoyable. I'm not a fan of opera, sacred or secular, but this sort of thing on the right sort of occasion is helping me gradually get to grips with it, and even enjoy it! When I bought this set, it was already great value, at about £110. Now, at the time of writing this review, it's under £95! Amazing value!!
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on 23 July 2013
Yes, this cost almost £100 but believe me it was worth not just every penny but many, many more. Superb service meant order Friday, delivery Monday. And now 157 CDs and 3 DVDs. It's heavy but only in physical terms! Otherwise I now possess the surest guide to Heaven on earth. The genius, the wonder of Bach. I urge you to invest.
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on 25 March 2013
A wonderful buy. Enjoying dipping into old favourite. Listening to the many cantatas that I've neglected over the years.

Getting used to the harpsichord versions of many pieces which are now usually played on the piano has been delightful.

For the money a superb investment.
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