J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Musical Offering

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Sigiswald Kuijken
Soloists:Barthold Kuijken, Flute
Sigiswald Kuijken, violin
Weiland Kuijken, Viola da gamba
Robert Kohnen, Harpsichord
Individual Works:Musical Offering, BWV 1079
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
Catalog Number:05472 77309 2
Year Released/Recorded:1995
Total Playing Time:49:15
Comments:Review by Jan Hanford:

I wasn't very familiar with this work before I heard this recording, now I don't know how I lived without it.

The work originated during a visit by J.S. Bach to the court of King Frederick II (Frederic the Great) where, by the way, Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel was employed at the time. The work is built around a unusual, chromatic theme which was provided by the King when Bach asked him for a melody on which to improvise a fugue. Bach's instantaneous performance was a big hit, Bach was invited back the next evening. Later, Bach elaborated on his improvisation, supplementing the original fugues with a trio sonata, again based on the King's theme. The finished collection was engraved in copper, bound in leather and presented to the King with the title Musicalisches Opfer (Musical Offering). We don't know what the King thought of it, or if he even thanked Bach. But we are certainly grateful to have this exquisite collection of instrumental chamber works handed down to us from 1747.

The delicate intricacy of the counterpoint is beautifully played by the Kuijken brothers and Robert Kohnen on harpsichord. Some of the pieces are solo harpsichord, others with harpsichord and violin, and then others with the whole ensemble. For those unfamiliar with this work this recording is an excellent introduction. For those who are familiar with it I'm told this recording is a revelation. I have no doubt anyone who chooses it will be delighted.

Acknowledgements:From the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:05/16/1998