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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
Bach Masterworks - The Original Jackets Collection
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£102.91+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 6 November 2013
This probably represents my approaching the end of my collecting Bach's works. That journey started in 1986 when I borrowed a 7LP set of the complete Harpsichord Concertos from my local library. That was the Pinnock/English Concert set which is incorporated here. I'll always remember that music lifting me in what was a troubling time in my life. Bach has been a constant in my life ever since.

I've recently missed out on some other boxed sets released by various record companies and didn't want to let this one pass by, given the astonishing value on a cost-per-disc basis and the fact that Bach has got to be my favourite composer by a considerable margin. I'm glad notice of it being published popped up on my facebook feed.

What you get is a colourful, sturdy box which has a shiny finish on the outside. It is a pleasant object to see and handle. I measured this box against regular CD jewel cases and found it is as deep as 14. Instantly there is an advantage in the space this set saves on your shelf! The box contains a booklet and 50 CDS in cardboard sleeves, which are otherwise loose in the box. The volume of content keeps them from moving around too much. On the cover of 40 of these sleeves is a reproduction of the original album artwork. The others are therefore probably produced for this set (it is not clear).

The reverse of the sleeves is a simple description of the contents of that disc however there is not much detail there at all on some discs; for example there is no track-by track description on many, meaning referencing the content in the booklet is required. The information is not consistent across the disc covers with some giving the ADD or DDD status of the recordings and others not. On some discs featuring solo instruments the instrument itself (organs and harpsichords mostly) is described, on others this is not the case.

The discs themselves are chocolate brown with a white rim and are printed in a universal style to make up the set. The DG logo appears quite small on all the discs excepting for the Decca logo appearing on disc 7. These do not therefore look like the "original" CDs.

Only 16 discs are from the mainstream DG label; the rest are from Archiv - the early music sub-label of DG - with the one unexpected exception being the Coffee Cantatas which are Hogwood on L'Oiseau-Lyre (Decca). Therefore the publicity photo showing mostly the wide yellow-bannered DG discs in the majority is arguably misleading.

The approach taken to the works therefore varies from the "authentic/period" to the more modern. The keyboard works, as an example subset, are split between harpsichord and piano. If you are curious as to what the "authentic" performances are like, the instruments are as they would have been in the day. Gut strings, played with no vibrato and valveless brass feature. The Brandenburg Concertos are a live recording.

The oldest recording I found was from 1962 (Solo Cello Suites), the most recent 2009 (Well Tempered Clavier). However there is no reason to worry about the older recordings since they sound really good to my ears and I'm not dissatisfied. I would have expected no less, given the modern remastering engineers' craft. Without analysing the dates statistically I can say from my flick through the discs that the majority seemed to be from post 1980, which places them in the full digital era.

In my opinion the one downside of the set is that the booklet is inadequate. It can't hope to replace the individual booklets from each of the CDs. This will mean that finding out about the works from other sources is required to begin to appreciate those with which you happen to be unfamiliar. Description of the contents of the discs, along with a few photos of performers, cover the first 87 pages of the 108. There is a 4 1/4 page essay on the personality of Bach reproduced in three languages, then at the back some technical details about the recordings. Two pages advertising of other products make up the rear end flap. I had no expectation that the info formerly included with each original release would be included. However it would be nice if, for example, DG made those essays available on line for the purchasers of these box sets.

So in conclusion what do I think? This set is magnificent! I've sampled a dozen discs this afternoon and found them all to be excellent. The value for money is staggering when you consider the cost of each disc. That's why I didn't pause for long when realising that about six or more discs would duplicate those I already own. The list of performers is full of the famous.

The only thing that I can think of which might deter anyone is the mixture of "authentic" and "modern" interpretations of the work from disc to disc. If you are someone who strongly prefers one over the other then perhaps you might pause before buying. As it is, I enjoy both almost equally, so it is not a problem for me.

The inadequacies of the booklet not withstanding, I can recommend this set without any hesitation.



CD 1: Cantatas BWV 21, 24 & 65
Münchener Bach-Orchester, Karl Richter, Münchener Bach-Chor

CD 2: Advent Cantatas BWV 61, 36 & 62
Nancy Argenta, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Olaf Bär, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner, The Monteverdi Choir

CD 3: Cantatas BWV 56, 158 & 82
Members of the RIAS-Kammerchor, Berliner Barock Solisten, Rainer Kussmaul

CD 4: Cantatas BWV 80, 26 & 116
Münchener Bach-Orchester, Karl Richter, Münchener Bach-Chor

CD 5: Cantatas BWV 140 & 147
The Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner

CD 6: Wedding Cantatas BWV 210, 202 & 51
Christine Schäfer, Musica Antiqua Köln, Reinhard Goebel

CD 7: "Coffee Cantata" BWV 211; "Peasant Cantata" BWV 212
Emma Kirkby, Rogers Covey-Crump, David Thomas, The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood

CD 8: Arias For Soprano And Violin
Kathleen Battle, Itzhak Perlman, Orchestra Of St Luke's, John Nelson

Sacred Works

CD 9: Mass In B Minor BWV 232
Münchener Bach-Chor, Münchener Bach-Orchester, Karl Richter

CD 10: Mass In B Minor BWV 232; Magnificat BWV 243
Münchener Bach-Chor, Münchener Bach-Orchester, Karl Richter

CDs 11 & 12: St. John Passion BWV 245
Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Stephen Varcoe, Cornelius Hauptmann, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner, The Monteverdi Choir

CDs 13 & 14: Bach, J. S.: St. Matthew Passion BWV 244
Deborah York, Ulla Munch, Julia Gooding, Magdalena Kozená, Susan Bickley, Mark Padmore, James Gilchrist, Peter Harvey, Stephan Loges, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

CDs 15 & 16: Christmas Oratorio BWV 248
The Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner

CD 17: Motets BWV 225-229
Die Regensburger Domspatzen, Capella Academica, Wien, Hanns-Martin Schneidt

CD 18: 20 Sacred Songs From Schemelli's Songbook
Peter Schreier, Karl Richter

Organ Works

CD 19: Trio Sonatas BWV 525-530
Simon Preston, Organ

CD 20: Toccata & Fugue In D Minor "Dorian" BWV 538; Choral Partita "Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig" BWV 768; Passacaglia & Fugue In C Minor BWV 582
Karl Richter, Organ

CD 21: Prelude & Fugue In B Minor, BWV 544; Prelude & Fugue In F, BWV 540; Prelude & Fugue In A Minor, BWV 543; Chorale Prelude "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele" BWV 654
Karl Richter, Organ

CD 22: Preludes & Fugues
Simon Preston, Organ

CD 23: Toccata & Fugue BWV 565; Organ Works BWV 572, 769, 532, 590 & 552
Simon Preston, Organ

CD 24: Choral Variations BWV 768, 769 & 645-650; Fantasy & Fugue In G Minor BWV 542; Fantasy In C Minor BWV 562; Fantasy & Fugue In C Minor BWV 537
Helmut Walcha, Organ

Keyboard Works

CDs 25 & 26: The Well-Tempered Clavier I, BWV 846-857
Maurizio Pollini, Piano

CD 27: Goldberg Variations BWV 988; Italian Concerto BWV 971
Trevor Pinnock, Harpsichord

CD 28: Partitas 4, 5 & 6 BWV 828, 829 & 830
Trevor Pinnock, Harpsichord

CD 29: Partita No.1 BWV 825; English Suite No.3 BWV 808; French Suite No.2 BWV 813
Maria João Pires, Piano

CD 30: English Suites Nos. 2 & 3, BWV 807 & 808
Ivo Pogorelich, Piano

CD 31: Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue BWV 903; Toccatas BWV 912-914 & 916; Fantasy BWV 906
Kenneth Gilbert, Harpsichord

CD 32: Toccata BWV 911; Partita No.2 BWV 826; English Suite No.2 BWV 807
Martha Argerich, Piano

CD 33: 15 Two-Part Inventions BWV 772-786; 15 Three-Part Inventions BWV 787-801
Kenneth Gilbert, Harpsichord

Solo and Chamber Works

CD 34: 4 Lute Suites BWV 995-998
Göran Söllscher

CDs 35 &36: Sonatas And Partitas For Solo Violin BWV 1001-1006
Nathan Milstein

CD 37: Sonatas For Violin And Harpsichord BWV 1014-1018
Reinhard Goebel, Robert Hill

CDs 38 & 39: Cello Suites BWV 1007-1012
Pierre Fournier

CD 40: Cello Sonatas BWV 1027-1029; Sonata For Violin And Harpsichord BWV 1019
Reinhard Goebel, Robert Hill

CD 41: Flute Sonatas BWV 1030-1032 &1013; Sonatas For Flute And Continuo BWV 1034 & 1035
Aurèle Nicolet, Karl Richter, Johannes Fink

CD 42: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1, 3 & 5 BWV 1046, 1048 & 1050
Orchestra Mozart, Claudio Abbado

Concertos and Orchestral Works

CD 43: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 6, 4 & 2 BWV 1051, 1049 & 1047
Orchestra Mozart, Claudio Abbado

CD 44: Orchestral Suites BWV 1066-1069
The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock

CD 45: Violin Concertos BWV 1042, 1043 & 1041; Double Concerto BWV 1060
Hilary Hahn, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane

CD 46: Concertos For Harpsichord And Strings BWV 1052-1054; BWV 1055 - Reconstruction For Oboe d'amore, Strings, And Continuo
David Reichenberg, The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock

CD 47: Concertos For Harpsichord And Strings BWV 1055-1058,
The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock

CD 48: Harpsichord Concertos BWV 1065, 1064 & 1063; BWV 1060 - Reconstruction For Violin, Oboe, Strings & Continuo
Kenneth Gilbert, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock

Contrapuntal Studies

CD 49: Musical Offering BWV 1079
Musica Antiqua Köln, Reinhard Goebel

CD 50: The Art Of Fugue BWV 1080
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano
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88 Comments| 58 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 7 January 2017
This is one of my best purchases of all time. it is a superlative box set. Any classical music lover would see beauty and depth in Bach.
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