Oct 10

Bach Teldec (multiple performers) 154 CDs ★★★
This set was issued 10 years ago as Bach 2000 by Teldec but with a pricetag astronomically higher than what I had to pay for this set. It is a major task to listen to the entire set, by 13 GB of music, 6 days, 14 hours, and 23 minutes of music.
The cantatas were produced by the combined efforts of Leonhardt and Harnoncourt. Both men are most accomplisherd in their interpretations of Bach. This set uses almost entirely original instrumentation, and in the sacred cantatas, almost entirely boy’s choirs.
I also have the Hanssler set, as well as the set produced by Brilliant Classics. Of the three sets, I preferred the Hanssler set the most. First, though I can appreciate the talent of young kids singing complicated Bach pieces, it still doesn’t settle on the ear like mature females singing the soprano and alto parts. Second, while Helmut Rilling has come under attack for lacking the interpretitive luster of other conductors, I find that there is quite a wallop of dryness in many of the Harnoncourt and Leonhardt performances, areas where the tempo dragged, or the singers seemed to have lost interest in the piece. Thirdly, modern instrumentation that is well tuned is always more appreciated on the ear. I can appreciate the challenge of playing a valveless trumpet, but I also realize that it isn’t quite as on-pitch as modern instruments. Also, in many of the pieces in this set, the nearly-ok pitches of the woodwind instruments were noticeable. Fourthly, many of the pieces in this set had recording problems. Especially with some of the ensemble instrumental works, recording balance was quite problematic, with one instrument of two playing sounding either disproportionately loud or quiet. To the credit of this set, they maintained some standardization, such as using the harpsicord throughout the keyboard pieces. The organ works were entirely performed by Ton Koopman, and superb.
For the Bach afficionato, this is a must-have set. Many of the works in this set are quite charming, showing brilliance in interpretation and performance. The problems set aside, I think Bach would have been quite pleased had he had a chance to hear any of these performances, and would not have thrown his wig in disgust for lack of performance quality.

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2 Responses to “Bach Teldec”

  1. Paul S Darby says:

    Ken, where did you buy your set and how much did you pay?

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