If like me, you have a consuming passion for the music of Bach, and you're looking at this webpage, then do not delay in ordering this boxset. I braced myself, clicked a few times, and now here I sit basking in the glory of nearly 7 whole days' worth of Bach (and that's if you sat and listened to it all, with no breaks, day and night!). I have listened to days' worth of music, but still barely broken the back of the collection. There still remains so much to explore of Bach's genius, and time I hear a new piece I am thrilled and astounded afresh. It's very difficult to believe that a lone human being was capable of producing such music!
It's difficult to distill the worth of this collection into so short a review, but put quite simply, the Bach Edition Boxset is a masterpiece, sold for less than a third what I'd expect to pay for it. The publishers at Brilliant Classics really have done the planet a favour. The quality of recording does indeed vary, but is generally superb or good. Whilst personal preference leads me to prefer some other recordings to those in the Boxset, none of the recordings is intolerable; all are charming, useful and form a brilliant point of comparison for those recordings you might prefer in some instances.
Some reviewers have complained at the continuous use of the harpsichord throughout the keyboard works CDs, but I find this touching and authentic; if nothing else, you're less likely to buy harpsichord editions of the CDs in the future, and I consider hearing the music as Bach may have done to be a wonderful thought. The keyboardists recorded on the set are universally renowned, and the different types of harpsichords used for some of the CDs provide a welcome blend. Parts of Die Kunst Der Fuge are even arranged for clavichord, purportedly Bach's favourite instrument, whilst the works for lute and viola da gamba found elsewhere on the CD add lustre and a spate of more unusual timbres to the collection.
It is worth mentioning also that many of the pieces available in the Edition Boxset are nigh-impossible to find anywhere else, and certainly a collection of this size if bought by piecemeal stages would cost many, many times more to acquire. Having uploaded the CDs to my computer, I am now able to type in any BWV number between one and a thousand and something-or-other, and within seconds the music streams out of my speakers. It's glorious.
Do yourself and JS a favour. Buy this set, or, if you really want to make someone grin wildly, order it for any friend who suspect might have a secret passion for Bach!
P.S. Be sure to check the prices of both the US, UK and French amazon websites. The price of this boxset has fluctuated madly over the last few months.
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