Sunday, March 23, 2014

Discovering Bach

I think my original impetus to study Bach  came from singing his Jesu, meine Freude motet and the B minor mass at Newcastle Conservatorium, under Michael Dudman's expert direction. 
After that,  I mainly only experienced the great instrumental works, like his keyboard preludes and fugues and the Brandenburg Concertos.
In 2002, I bit the bullet and bought the Teldec Bach 2000 set, which was discounted from $2200 to $1500 and includes all 1080 of Bach's extant works.
I listened to every single CD and nearly drove my wife mad with the 71 CDs of cantatas, because Harnoncourt's boy sopranos are out of tune in at least six of the CDs and they are not appealing performances.
In 2007, I had the opportunity of participating in ABC TV's Einstein Factor on the subject of J S Bach. I went down the gurgler on the second episode and only won the first one by one question. But i learnt a lot more about Bach during my preparation!
But when I discovered John Eliot Gardiner's Pilgrimage series, I began collecting them, and at a very attractive price. His Monteverdi Choir's performances are invariably beautiful. They make exploring the cantatas a very pleasant task.
These days you can do it all so cheaply! The Teldec set has been reissued for $300, but without the terrific booklets [though I believe they are online].
Gardiner's stuff is all freely available on Spotify and there is a wonderful abundance of first rate recordings of Bach's music on Youtube.