Bach recommendations for a beginner?

Dear Ardbeg or should I say Single Malt, Smokey and Peaty.  I would not mind a dram right now.  The only works I could find by Ton Koopman was

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It is a little more than I can afford at the moment as I have spent so much.  Though I will add it to my watch list for maybe next month.

I must say this forum is good in helping me spend money that I do not have.


Paul, you don't have to spend money on Bach for now. Bach remains good on even the most crappy recordings. That is because Bachs music is strongly dependent on counterpoint and the music in itself is great, not dependent on recording or even performance. One of the best concerts I've been in my life was when I by accident walked in a church and choir of people being aged 70+ on average were singing 'Wohl mir das ich Jesum habe'.

Contrary to this, I greatly like performances of e.g. Ton Koopman because it is very alive and energetic.

So, to get into Bach, you can start listening on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube and find what you like. Then you can purchase something.

Thanks Chris, maybe later.  I am listening and enjoying the 6 Partitas BWV 825 - 830.  This is an understatement.  Though there is so much to Bach.  I am enjoying a cheap single malt whilst I preview on iTunes.  Fortunately I have been able to track down the first 8 of Gramophone's Top 10.  With the last two I have improvised with recommendations from the forum.  Some, the rare ones I have purchased.  The others remain in the wing.  There are still on or two of the Top 3 out there.  There maybe more.  It is definitely worth a tap of the keyboards and using Google, eBay and Decca Classics.


G'day, back again.  I am in need of some advice.  I do not like spending more than I have too as finances are a little light on at the moment.

It may be a no brainer.  Though if I can save a few dollars I would like too.

There is this CD

The seller has zero feedback.

Or this box set

The single CD is also available at Amazon here

Though by the time it arrives in Australia.  I may have been better off purchasing the box set.

I am not a classical piano appreciator.  Though I never thought I would be so taken with stringed instruments outside of a guitar.

I am a little spell struck with what I have been listening to of Bach on iTunes and am looking forward to hearing the CDs I have purchased on our home stereo.

I am trying to like the Cello Suites.  Though I am not there as yet.

Over to you.

Warm regards,


OK. This could be good news.  I had an issue with a triple CD cardboard sleeve where the it feel apart and glue was deposited all over one CD.  It was less than 12 months old and possibly the second time I had played it.  Thankfully the shop where I purchased it from exchanged it for a double CD.  I was not going to chance my luck a second time with a deluxe triple CD option.

I am only new to purchasing music again as our amplifier has been dead for so many years I can not remember (night shift, too tired for any enjoyment).  Thus I called it quits and purchased a Naim Nait XS2.

I had the impression, correct or not that cardboard sleeves were for those that copied their CDs to a hard drive.  If my reasoning as a new chum to CDs again is incorrect.  Please shed some light on the subject.

I have this fear that cardboard will scratch the CD.  Is my reasoning incorrect and unfounded?


Paul, i find jewel cases tend to break too easy, and need more parking space on the shelf, so i find cardboard very acceptable especially with box-sets which in jewel case form can often be fiddly to extract the CDs, and the boxset cases tend to be rather too chunky imho...

I like the CDs themselves to be well made though, with top sonic quality recordings - obviously ; )

Thanks Debs, I am learning anew.  I have placed my order with Amazon and look for ward to these CDs arriving in the next couple of weeks.  I would have been in so much trouble with me dear wife.  Except she has elected to purchase a French Bulldog to accompany her two pugs.  I think I am safe with a few CDs : )


Gigantor posted:

Ah!  Bugger, the Box set is in cardboard sleeves.  Not jewel cases.  What do forum members think?


In box sets, I am not a fan of cardboard myself.  Basically a cheap, short-term solution with a whole host of issues.  If I had to choose, I prefer the ones where they have paper on the outside but some have a cut out circle with the clear plastic liner on one side so you can see which disc you have.  These are the best but I see fewer and fewer of these.  As was said, I don't like how you have to wrestle the disc in and out of cardboard and how some fall apart etc.  The condition of the disc goes down fast.  I prefer to stick my finger in the middle and only handle by the edges.

For single or double /triple albums etc. I still prefer the jewel case even to those with a cardboard outside.  At least a jewel case can stand up without falling over if it is on an end.  Jewel cases do tend to arrive in the mail damaged though when the vendors do not ship then in better packaging (which is 99% of the time).  I used to get mad and return any imperfection but this was a full time job for me.  Now I tend to just accept it and move on.  One day in the future I'll buy a huge amount of empty jewel cases for the parts and then fix the damaged ones I have.  I suppose I should do this sooner than later before they stop making these things.

My original attraction was reverential music that spoke to the soul.  The more I delve into Bach, the more I find his music does this.  As I am still learning all the terms one uses with classical music I am not sure.  I think it is cantatas that I enjoy though I am also quite taken with violin concertos.

For better or worse I did end up ordering the cardboard sleeve box set from Amazon.  I am hoping that Amazon will pack the CDs better than a local Oz eBay seller.

I am truly looking forward to the arrival of the CDs I have purchased and to tune out local noise and immerse myself in some fine music.  There is only so much 80's soft rock that one can listen too.  Though are we not spoiled with all the wonderful options we have at hand.

Excuse me Emre, who is DG please?

Ardbeg10Y, Thank you for your reference.  I will check it out on either iTunes or YouTube.  I think I have exhausted my credit card for a while and give it a well earned rest.  No recommendation is ignored.  I require a rest after all the research and purchasing I have been doing.

Warm regards to all,


Thank you Emre,

I found this.  Though the track I checked was in German.  Thank you for directing me to this site.  Though for the moment I will concentrate on pieces in English.

Warm regards,


P.S.  I have spent more than enough money and will await, patently for my Bach CD's to arrive in the mail.  Time for enjoyment approaches.

The Viktoria Mullova, Bach Violin Concertos and Partitas arrived a couple of days ago and I had the opportunity to listen to it in full.  CD 1, listened to twice.

I must say that CD 1 with Concertos is my favourite CD of this double CD album.  I enjoyed the violin solo partitas.  Though not as much as the concertos.  I especailly liked the concertos with the accompanying oboe.  I am looking forward to the other CDs arriving of the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for recommending this album.


Steven Isserlis' absolutely fabulous rendition of the Cello Suites has already been recommended, and if you own only one set, own those. If you're curious for something more eccentric however, Edgar Meyer has a CD of 1st, 2nd, and 5th suites on the base cello and it's astonishing how well he plays them. Andres Segovia does them well on the guitar as well, but that's less to my taste.

About Glenn Gould, I don't agree. Both the 1955 and the later 1981 recordings are spectacular. Just beautiful to my ears.

And there's more and more and more!


here are the suggestions from one who has never managed to get along well with Bach. These are the only 5 things I'd take with me if I had to spend a long time on a space travel.

1 - Wilhelm Kempf's transcription of the Siciliana (nothing to do with Sicily, a 6/8 tempo Andante) from Bach's Flute Sonata BWV 1031.

2 - The Choral Prelude Ich ruf zu dir, BWV 639, in Busoni's piano transcription. No subtraction, no addition, just the beautiful music in a beautiful piano voice.

3 - The Choral Prelude Nun komm der heiden Heiland, also in Busoni's piano transcription, BWV 659.

4 - The Choral Prelude Jesu bleibet meine Freude, from the Cantata BWV147

5 - The Choral Prelude Wachet auf, BWV 645. 


In case these are too few for a long space travel, just add Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, Kv 618.



Thank you Max.  I do not believe that I have had a flute recommendation so far.  I have filed your email into my Naim Bach Forum Mailbox for later reference.  I have virtually purchased all the recommendations thus far and am still awaiting on arrivals via post from the UK and the USA.  Some CDs have arrived in once piece.  Though with Amazon I have had mixed results.  I still have about ten or more CDs to go through and enjoyed "J.S. Bach The Orchestral Suites" by Christopher Hogwood on Decca last night.  I will choose another double for tonight.  Thank you to everyone.  I have not ignored you.  Though I am going through these lovely CDs when I have time.  This is mainly governed when the lounge room/kitchen is free from other family members.

Warm regards,


Dear Paul,

Bach is many things. As a teacher of composition, I couldn't do without some of his works, which even then were conceived for didactic purpose and still serve that purpose well, in the first stage of the studies of harmony and counterpoint. His treatment of the choral melodies is often so varied and imaginative, for the standard of his time, to also constitute a sort of manual.

Then there's the Bach of the great Masses, Oratories, Passions. Some seem to find in this huge choral, instrumental and spiritual universe all that can be asked to music. I don't belong to this type of listener unfortunately, finding his treatment of voices and instruments too functional to the celebrative aspect of music. Singers often complain about Bach's treatment of voices, a real challenge to physiology. And I am not especially interested in religious works.

There is the Bach of Fugues, of contrapunctual experiments, the mathematician. That is interesting, and awe inspiring if you consider the conceptual difficulty of some of his works and the terrifying ability with which he manipulates the same materials ad infinitum, reversing, inverting, changing, adapting any type of motive to his combining skills. That Bach usually is a sort of Cirque du Soleil for pure listeners, but very frustrating for those who do music.

The Bach I suggested to you is the rare, precious, human Bach of the few moments of sentiment. The pieces I listed are so simply beautiful, so emotionally intense that even a hypohedonic type like me finds joy in them. So I hope you'll enjoy them with as much pleasure.



Dear Max,

Thank you for your second post.  I have attempted preliminary searches and have found the following with regards to Flute Sonatas.

With regards to the other selections I have had less success when I factor Busoni in the search criteria.

I also have this work yet to order which was recommended by one forum member.

Recently in the mail I have received quite a few CDs which I wish to set some time aside to listen and appreciate them.  Max, I do not know if you have read through all the posts.  Though my interest in Bach started with one of his Passions which was being broadcasted over the local MW AM Australian Government Radio Station here in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  My experience of Bach has amounted to four CDs at the moment and I wish to go through the remaining selection of Gramophone UK's top ten Bach must haves.

Of this list I have purchased most of those except Numbers 6 and 8 on the list, plus a few others that forum members have kindly recommended.  I am still awaiting deliver of a few of these CDs as they slowly make their way to Australia.  Hopefully in one piece.  I am struggling to enjoy the Cello Suite.  Though no doubt it is quite technical and beautiful to those whom know it better than I.  There is an Australian acoustic baritone guitar player that has released a CD of the Cello Suites locally.  I may purchase this.

I thank you for your time and effort to make your post and appreciate your knowledge and selections coming from a teacher in composition.  My skills are very rudimentary as I played bass drum in my cadet band at school and until recently due to a work place accident played electric bass guitar at my local church on a Sunday.  Age now, 54.

Max, if you are in a position too. Could kindly choose one of the Flute Sonatas from the Amazon search above that I may purchase with your recommendation on CD.

Thank you.

Warm regards,


Most keyboard players feel they must record all of the Partitas, or all of the French or English Suites, etc. Sometimes, listening to these recordings becomes somewhat tedious, so I like to collect recordings where the artist performs a variety of works, which to me, is a nice departure from the norm. Argerich, Peres, and Brendel have excellent recordings that are comprised of a variety of Bach's keyboard works, but the latest iteration of this type of collection is a recital by Rafal Blechacz on DG. It is quite splendid, not only for it's variety, but also for the highest caliber of Bach playing imaginable. Here's a link...

Bach Recital by Rafal Blechacz: Music

This comes with my highest recommendation!



Thank you Monster.  It has been some time since your post.  I am slowly going through the many CDs recommended to myself on Bach.  It has been an enjoyable experience.  Though other hobbies and medical appointments have intervened as well.  I have purchased all recommendations so far bar two and will do so in the near future.  I am wondering if forum friends advice should be posted here on my purchases or on the forum.  "What is the last CD you purchased"?  I have many CDs of which I have only listened to half at best.  Though those that I have listened too have been a blessing with my current state of mind.  PTSD, High Anxiety and Severe Depression.  All is good and even though I do have negative thoughts.  I must say that I am surrounded by lovely people that care for me.  In closing would those who recommend so many CDs wish for me to list them here or on the other forum link, "What is the last CD you purchased"?

Warm regards,


Hi Paul, I'm pleased that the  music has helped you in some way with your medical problems and wish you all the best. Speaking for myself, it'd be nice to see your feedback in this thread, it's an excellent resource on Bach recommendations, I picked up a couple of performances on the back of it, and it would be nice to keep this self-contained.

Dear Hungryhalibut.  I may have over looked this recommendation.  Below are the CDs I purchased after forum members recommendations.  I have not listened to all or most.  Though those I have listened too have been lovely and have taken me on a lovely journey.  Here goes:

1.  Bach Mass in B Minor, John Eliot Gardiner

2.  J.S. Bach, St Matthew Passion, Sir David Willcocks

3.  j.S. Bach  St John Passion, Benjamin Britten

4.  J'S Bach Mass in B Minor, John Eliot Gardiner

5.  j.S. Bach Violin Concertos, Viktoria Mullove

6.  Bach 6 Solo Sonatas & Partitas, Viktoria Mullove

7.  Hilary Hahn, Back Concertos

8.  Sechs Partiten, SIX Partitas BWV 825 - 830, Trevor Pinnock

9.  Bach, Slava Grigoryan Cello Suites. Volume 1

10.  Bach Cello Suites, Steven Isserlis

11.  j.S. Bach Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1060, 1062, 1064, Christopher Hogwood

12.  J.S. Bach, The Orchestral Suites BWV 1060 & 1062, Christopher Hogwood

13.  Glenn Gould Plays Bach  Goldberg Variations BWV988

14.  Bach, Daniel Hope, Vilolin Concertos in A minor & E major, Concerto for 2 violins . Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

15.  Murray plays Perahia Bach The Complete Recordings

16.  J.S.Bach Orchestral Suites for a young prince.

17.  Bach Six Concertos for the Margrave of Brandenburg, Trevor Pinnock

18.  Bach, the Keyboard Concertos 1, BwV1052, BWV1058, Brandenburg Concerto No 5, Angela Hewitt, Australian Chamber Orchestra

19.  Bach, The Keyboard Concertos - 2 BWV1053, BWV1055, BWV1056, BWV1057, Angela Hewitt, Australian Chamber Orchestra

20.  Bach, Angela Hewit, BWV772-801, BWV802-805, BWV806-811, BWV812-817, BWV823, BWV825-830, BWV831, BWV832, BWV846-893 (2008), BWV894, BWV903, BWV904, 944, BWV906, BWV910-916, BWV924-928, 930, 933-943, 989, BWV963, BWV964, BWV971, BWV971, BWV988, BWV989, BWV992-993.

If I have missed anything that you believe that I should add to my collection.  Please remind me.  Even if it means you have to repeat yourself.  I do wish to say that I have been lovingly encapsulated by the above albums.  I have not listened to half of them.  Though I am working my way through as time permits.  I do play the same CD a few times before going onto the next.  After which I will return.  I do find that I enjoy the Orchestral Suites most.  Though having said that I can be captivated by a Concerto or Partita.  I am finding it all a lovely learning curve of escape that I was once, not aware of.  By listing all these albums.  I wish to inform those who have replied to my post.  Your recommendations have not gone unheard.  If there is anything else that is a must have, or takes your heart on a journey.  Please feel free to add.

I would like to end this post with the words, "with much Love",


One thing I think is missing on your list are the cantatas (sacred and secular), they are are an amazing source of fantastic music.
They represent over a third of his output so I think you do need some examples to get true appreciation of the man.
I have both the John Eliot Gardiner set and Suzuki set of the sacred cantatas, you can just about pick any of these at random to get a feel of what they are like.

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