J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

The Art of Alfred Cortot

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Alfred Cortot
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Orchestre de l'Ecole Normale de Musique, Paris
Individual Works:Couperin le Grand: Concert dans le gout théatral
Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046 - BWV 1051
Brahms: Double Concerto op. 102
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Koch
Catalog Number:3-7705-2Y6x2
Year Released/Recorded:1932
Total Playing Time:76:46+67:07
Comments:Giorgio Vitale said:

The first integral recording of Brandenburg Concertos ever. Predictably, an enormously different performance from contemporary readings, but also from such great conductors of the classic school, like Klemperer (I've never heard Busch). The big difference from the likes of Klemperer is the supreme freedom and vitality Cortot feels he's entitled to. Shall we say his reading is an eccentric, Lisztian one? All sorts of rallentando, accelerando, vibrato, and other "sentimental" colours appear sparsely, for our surprise and joy. Yes, joy, for this is lively playing out of an era when music was "made", not "authentically played".
All concertos have harpsichord, but the fifth, which sees Cortot himself at the piano and Jacques Thibaud at the violin. Great, marvellous playing from both of them, once more highly passionate and exhilarating.
Orchestra could be made of non professional players, no information is given in the booklet. Trumpets and french horns make a few mistakes, but everybody manages to keep the rather speedy tempos set by the conductor.
There are a few cuts made in order to fit in 78 rpm discs, but the booklet points out that Cortot's readings were among the shortest ever.
Transfers are a bit noisy but quite clear. Thanks to the smaller orchestra, they're a lot better than the widely known Brahms Concerto, rather more like the celebrated recordings by the Cortot-Thibaud-Casals Trio.
All in all, a must have for whoever loves Bach, music and the history of recorded music.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Giorgio Vitale
Date First Submitted:01/31/2003