Bach recommendations for a beginner?

Dear Filpe, I do own a turntable.  Though it is more of a novelty item than an audiophile piece of hardware.

https://www.gramovox.com/products/floating-record

I do intend to rectify this one day.  Though as we live on a rural (very) dusty road.  I would be concerned about the amount of dust the turntable would suffer from.  The dust rolls in with every vehicle that passes by.  May I thank you again for your recommendation.  I will, look for it in CD format.  Though for the immediate future I will put it away for now as I concentrate on Bach recommendations from Gramophone's Top 10 list and those albums that have a Christian vein which have been kindly recommended to myself.

I think I am a little overwhelmed with the kind responses and have more than enough to consider for the moment.

There is a local store in Melbourne, Australia that advertises that it sells audiophile LP's and CD's.  On Wednesday I will purchase this CD whilst it is still available

https://www.audiophilereferenc...ns-songcdi44009.html  which is listed in Gramophone's Top 10.

After this and having appreciated this CD and if I indeed do enjoy Bach I will next purchase Saint Matthew's Passion and Mass in B minor.  I will then go over all the recommendations again.  Re-reading and making note of forum members opinions and look for a commonality between these recommendations and the Top 10 list of Gramophone's reviews.

To everyone, thank you for your posts and recommendations.  I only have so many pennies to play with and can not purchase every item that has been recommended to me all at once.  Though I will work on his.  You may have a new Bach convert : )

In closing:

After listening to some short wave radio last night and our local AM medium wave station and enjoying the (I do not want to say religious music) appropriate music to celebrate this Easter.  I sat down to a Talisker 10 year old scotch at 1:00 am and listened to the first CD of John Butt's Handel's Messiah.  This is the second time I have played this CD and I appreciated it even more this time around.  I will listen to disc two tonight, again, after everyone is gone to bed.

It is a little difficult to "listen" to music during the day with all the family activities that take place in our open plan lounge/kitchen room.

Warm regards,

Paul.

Gigantor - that is a preposterously huge amount of money to pay for that performance; you can buy it on a normal cd for vastly less, the "gold plated limited edition" nonsense is just hype.

And fwiw I think it is an utterly dreadful performance. For a start Glenn Gould sings and moans along with the music extremely irritatingly and intrusively - evidently he is incapable of expressing himself through the piano -,  he doesn't play tall the repeats, and his performance is, well, idiosyncratic, attention seeking, mannered, ungainly ... He was a kind of "bad boy" of piano playing for a while, prodigiously competent technically, he introduced a particular generation of people to Bach, but - despite all the hype in the magazines - there are now just so many better interpreters and performances who let the music do the work. Murray Perahia, Angela Hewitt, Igor Levit, Andras Schiff .. I've recently enjoyed Beatrice Rana joyously young set. But Glenn Gould's set is more about Glenn Gould than it is about Bach.

 

(I am now going to be incinerated!)

 

 

G'day Likesmusic, after my post I listened to the Album on iTunes and it is not my bucket of fish.  Even thought it is rated Number 4 with Gramophone TOP 10 List.  I found it too busy.  I have since gone through all the Top 10 albums on iTunes and have come up with a short list.  Those being Numbers, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9.  For number 10 I found a German version on iTunes and would like an English version.

After thinking a little off centre.  I Googled these albums in Australian and ended up at our local ABC shop.  ABC is our local channel 2 TV station and part of an Australia wide AM radio network on the medium wave band.  Here in Victoria Melbourne it is on 774 kHz.

On there website I found these listings:

https://shop.abc.net.au/search#stq=bach

I do not know what to make of them.  Though I am considering purchasing the Passions of Matthew and John for starters and see where I go from there.  I do not know if I am making a mistake walking away from Gramophone's Top 10 list and finding a locally available list that may be equivalent.  I have not been disappointed with the ABC in the past.  Though it is a risk.

I must say thank you for your post warning me off the Glen Gould CD.  Even though I did not enjoy it.  I thought I might with enough exposure.  Though honestly it was very fast work which I found over complex for enjoyment.  I like how some pieces can drift silently away with spacing for personal contemplation.  You have saved me $55 dollars AUD.

Likesmusic, are there any on this ABC list that you think I should avoid please.  I have a fire extinguisher to put out any flames : )  Fully trained on cockpit and hangar fires.  Please feel safe : )

Please feel free to go through my ABC link above and select any must haves.  I am finding that I have a preference for strings and or accompanied voices.  I do not know what you call the latter.

Warm regards,

Paul.

I don't know most of the performances, the Hewitt Well Tempered Clavier is my reference performance of the work, the Parahia recording of the Frnch Suites is excellent ( I don't know the other Perahia one, but it looks like a good introduction to Bach's keyboard music), and the mixed album of Brahms, Schumann and Bach with Martha Argerich Nd Izzy Perlman is wonderful, although obviously not totally Bach.

I'd suggest just picking up one of the Passions, the Matthew, to start, both are long choral works, and as an introduction to Bach 4 hours of choral work may be a bit much, then add the John when you've decided (hopefully) that Bach will be a lifelong passion.

There have been many recommendations for keyboard, violin, cello and voice. All good. One set of compositions I keep coming back to, that I don't believe has yet been mentioned, is the lute suites. I find them to be quite sublime and very cerebral. I like Goran Sollscher in these works.

Something else you will certainly want to explore, are the sonatas and partitas for solo violin. Milstein on EMI, or Mullova on Onyx are very fine.

The recordings I listed get played to death at our place, but there are many other fine recordings to choose from.

Enjoy,

BB

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their guidance with my desire to expand my listening to include Bach.  Please do not feel ignored that I have not purchased from overseas sources as some have recommended.  After a number of disappointments from purchasing from outside Australia.  I have elected for this purchase that I will purchase from our local government book shop the ABC (Australian Broadcast Commission).

The albums I have purchased are:

https://shop.abc.net.au/produc...-matthew-passion-3cd

https://shop.abc.net.au/produc...-st-john-passion-2cd

Plus one DVD

https://shop.abc.net.au/products/wolf-hall-dvd

Hopefully these albums will be fully appreciated which will ignite an ongoing passion for Bach.

Thank you everyone very much.

Warm regards,

Paul.

Success, after a search on the internet I found this.  Mulled over it for a 15 minutes and then hit the buy button.  It was cheaper than the new price at Amazon for almost $200 USD.  A little over $50 AUD second hand delivered from the UK.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/351...e=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

I do take notice.  For now I will sit back and await for my purchases to arrive.

Thank you again to everyone.  Nobody has been ignored.

Warm regards,

Paul.

Well I have copied and pasted all the recommendations on to three pages of a Pages' (Apple) document.  I think I have a bit of information overload.

Please do not feel ignored if I have not followed your recommendations.  I do not know the correct descriptions/headings for the different types of music from Bach.  I am very green.

As mentioned I have purchased locally both of the St. Matthew and St. John's Passions.  This is a starter.  I have made an eBay purchase from a UK charity site.  Or so they say.  I am very apprehensive of purchasing CD's from eBay overseas.  Though will see what happens.

As for Decca and Amazon.  I will go through all the recommendations on my Pages' document.  Re-read it a number of times and look into the recommend artists.

With respect to Florestans's recommendation.  "I would generally say you could focus on orchestral / concerto (1-3), choral (9-10) or solo instruments (4-8) (keyboard, violin, cello, lute etc.) ".

I think this is good advice when thinking of my interests.  I will listen to Orchestral/Concertos again on iTunes to get an idea.  Though I have found I like stringed instruments.  Piano, I am not sure.  Possibly an overexposure to Liberace when I was young.  Parents!  Though I do enjoy Elton John.

Please feel that you have been listened too and appreciated for your advice.

Paul.

likesmusic posted:

 

And fwiw I think it is an utterly dreadful performance. For a start Glenn Gould sings and moans along with the music extremely irritatingly and intrusively - evidently he is incapable of expressing himself through the piano -,  he doesn't play tall the repeats, and his performance is, well, idiosyncratic, attention seeking, mannered, ungainly ... He was a kind of "bad boy" of piano playing for a while, prodigiously competent technically, he introduced a particular generation of people to Bach, but - despite all the hype in the magazines - there are now just so many better interpreters and performances who let the music do the work. Murray Perahia, Angela Hewitt, Igor Levit, Andras Schiff .. I've recently enjoyed Beatrice Rana joyously young set. But Glenn Gould's set is more about Glenn Gould than it is about Bach. 

(I am now going to be incinerated!)

 

No flames  Absolutely agree about Gould. I actually get a headache  listening to him after a while. Relentless and tiring. For the Goldbergs, you really cannot beat the truly glorious account by Murray Perahia  on Sony- a true desert island disc. 

I fear that recommending either of the passions to the original poster is fraught with danger however - this is not particularly easy music for a beginner (and even my wife, a professional classical guitarist, finds the recitatives to be rather tedious and boring ). For choral. much better to try out something like the Easter Oratorio (great version by Suzuki on BIS) or the Christmas Oratorio (maybe the HIP Dunedin Consort version on Linn). They are a bit easier to swallow for a newby. 

Wugged Woy posted:
Kevin Richardson posted:

Bach begins and ends with : Hilary Hahn - Bach Concertos

Unfortunately it doesn't end quickly enough for me..........  Try Viktoria Mullova / Mullova Ensemble on Philips (a twofer including 3 partitas). 

Those partitas happen to be among the most impressive ever committed to disc, and amongst Mullova's few best records. I think her Bach concertos (both recordings, Philips and Onyx) lack a bit of energy - try Alina Ibragimova on Hyperion!

Cheers

EJ

The discussion about certain interpretations is not helping the OP, IMO he asked about essential Bach works. Discussions about interpretations might lead to the notion that if he won't buy the recording from this or that artist he will make a terrible mistake. This is potentially deterring.

Dear fellow contributors, have trust in the power of Bach's oeuvre and that the major labels throughout employ very able artists. The work is more important than its interpretation and will shine through. Source first so to say. My first classical concert was a less than professional rendition of Brahms double concerto by a student orchestra and it still impressed me deeply.

I'd follow Emre's suggestion and recommend the Bach box from Deutsche Grammophon but 50 CDs is still a bit much.

Thank you JFRITZEN, I have a list from Gramophone's Top 10 and I have appreciated all the recommendations to date.  I have made a couple of purchases based on recommendations that had me second guessing myself where two recommendations or critiques would counter each other.  Thank you for mentioning that any recording from a major label will have Bach's composing (if I use the correct words) shine through.

I did purchase a CD for $50 AUD from the UK on eBay.  One gentleman recommended it and another countered.  My wife would have something to say if I spent this amount of money on a dud.  I can now feel comfortable with my purchases from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and Decca Classics.   I did not want to use eBay.  Though hopefully these purchases will arrive in one piece.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/350...e=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/351...e=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

Warm regards,

Paul.

Gigantor posted:

Thank you JFRITZEN, I have a list from Gramophone's Top 10 and I have appreciated all the recommendations to date.  I have made a couple of purchases based on recommendations that had me second guessing myself where two recommendations or critiques would counter each other.  Thank you for mentioning that any recording from a major label will have Bach's composing (if I use the correct words) shine through.

I did purchase a CD for $50 AUD from the UK on eBay.  One gentleman recommended it and another countered.  My wife would have something to say if I spent this amount of money on a dud.  I can now feel comfortable with my purchases from the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and Decca Classics.   I did not want to use eBay.  Though hopefully these purchases will arrive in one piece.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/350...e=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/351...e=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

Warm regards,

Paul.

Paul, don't worry about counter views - it is only us talking about our 'preferences' (my comment about the rather sweet Ms. Hahn was said with a strong tongue-in-cheek, therefore I added a smiley) .

Both Hahn and Mullova are superlative violinists and you have two  purchases  to treasure 

Now, I urge you - Perahia's Goldbergs  You won't regret 

EJS posted:
Wugged Woy posted:
Kevin Richardson posted:

Bach begins and ends with : Hilary Hahn - Bach Concertos

Unfortunately it doesn't end quickly enough for me..........  Try Viktoria Mullova / Mullova Ensemble on Philips (a twofer including 3 partitas). 

Those partitas happen to be among the most impressive ever committed to disc, and amongst Mullova's few best records. I think her Bach concertos (both recordings, Philips and Onyx) lack a bit of energy - try Alina Ibragimova on Hyperion!

Cheers

EJ

Thanks for the tip, EJS  I have her Bach Sonatas and Partitas disc, which is great, so I will track down your recommendation 

Gigantor posted:

Oops, yes it is Onyx.  Sorry my mistake.

Paul.

Sorry for the late reply, Paul. That certainly is the recording I was recommending. Good hunting. Sorry for not supplying a link, but I'm not at home and I'm posting on an iPad that I'm not yet familiar with.

BB

Wugged Woy posted:
likesmusic posted:

 

And fwiw I think it is an utterly dreadful performance. For a start Glenn Gould sings and moans along with the music extremely irritatingly and intrusively - evidently he is incapable of expressing himself through the piano -,  he doesn't play tall the repeats, and his performance is, well, idiosyncratic, attention seeking, mannered, ungainly ... He was a kind of "bad boy" of piano playing for a while, prodigiously competent technically, he introduced a particular generation of people to Bach, but - despite all the hype in the magazines - there are now just so many better interpreters and performances who let the music do the work. Murray Perahia, Angela Hewitt, Igor Levit, Andras Schiff .. I've recently enjoyed Beatrice Rana joyously young set. But Glenn Gould's set is more about Glenn Gould than it is about Bach. 

(I am now going to be incinerated!)

 

No flames  Absolutely agree about Gould. I actually get a headache  listening to him after a while. Relentless and tiring. For the Goldbergs, you really cannot beat the truly glorious account by Murray Perahia  on Sony- a true desert island disc. 

I fear that recommending either of the passions to the original poster is fraught with danger however - this is not particularly easy music for a beginner (and even my wife, a professional classical guitarist, finds the recitatives to be rather tedious and boring ). For choral. much better to try out something like the Easter Oratorio (great version by Suzuki on BIS) or the Christmas Oratorio (maybe the HIP Dunedin Consort version on Linn). They are a bit easier to swallow for a newby. 

I absolutely agree with you agreeing with me. Murray Perahia is very special, it is as though the music comes to yo directly, transcendentally, with seemingly any artifice. I was lucky enough to hear him play the Goldbergs live some years ago, I was utterly captured. Listened to his version just recently over Easter - along with the delightful Beatrice Rana, and Andras Schiff - he still get closer than anyone else Imo. Might be worth saying to the o/p that his recordings of the Keyboard Suites with Neville Mariner (some of which I have also heard them play live), are just wonderful - great, enjoyable, good fun, real music making - and the associated album with Brandenburg No 5, The Flute Concerto and the Italian Concerto is  outstanding also - in fact not a bad place to start listening to Bach now I think of it.

Dear Likesmusic,

I have been busy on eBay and Decca Classics in tracking down Gramophone's Top 10.  I have manged to find the first 8.  Some in secondhand condition. As yet I have not purchased any due to their current prices though I do plan to purchase one or two a month.  I did listen to Gould on iTunes and at first I liked it.  Then when I listened for a second time, it is in the dunno basket.

Anyhow, with regards to the regards to the Christmas and Easter Oratorios.  Do any of these come in English?  I do not speak German and was wondering if this would be a hindrance to appreciating these works?

With regards to Murray Perahia, I found these two links

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NEW...1:g:2c4AAOSw4DJYkuQK

and

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Mur...6:g:hsEAAOSwA29Y50IC

I have not looked for the other artists you have mentioned.  Should I?

I enjoy John Butt's Handel, I find the music invigorating, reflective and because I can understand it as it is in English.  Being Ozzie aged 54, all we/I speak Down Under is Ozstraylan and Kiwi

So far on this forum I have learned five new words, Cantatas, Concertos, Oratorio, Partitas, Sonata.

I am a tradesman expanding his music appreciation.

Warm regards,

Paul.

Gigantor - those two Murray Perahia selections are outstanding; the 8 cd set contains the individual Golberg cd so is tremendous value, and gives you the keyboard concertos, English suites, the Partitas and Brandenburg 5 in which there is the most stupendous solo piano cadenza. A great selection, at a very good price. Buy it. Can you download CDs in oz? If so, linnrecords and Hyperion have some very fine Bach performances.

Hello Likesmusic.  I am not up to speed on downloading music.  I only use iTunes.  I know Naim has streamers.  But I am not in a position to purchase one of these and I think my wife would have trouble using it.  Though she has no trouble with her iPhone and iPad.  My next hardware purchase will be the CD5 XS.  It might be a Christmas present for both of us.

Paul.

It is a sad day. This is around post 77 and nobody did mention yet that Bach was an ORGANIST and played the ORGAN. This is the key to understand Bach. My suggestion is to buy the book 'Johann Sebastian Bach; the learned musician' written by Christoph Wolff and contact a professional organist to play you some organworks on a decent instrument.

or search on ytb for

'J. S. Bach - Fantasia and Fugue for organ in G minor BWV 542 - Ton Koopman Organ'

Turn up your volume to the max your speakers can handle. Its better to hear this in a chuch actually.

This beats cello suites, wohl temperiertes clavier, mass in b, brandenburg concerts, the orchestral suites etc ...

I make an exception to the st. Matthew Passion only - which brought me to J. S. Bach when I was 12.

... a (professional, pretty anonymous) organist ...

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