J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Orchestral Suites

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Trevor Pinnock
Accompaniment/Orchestra:The English Concert
Individual Works:BWV 42 *
BWV 52 *
BWV 110 *
BWV 174 *
BWV 249 *
BWV 1066
BWV 1067
BWV 1068
BWV 1069

* Extracts

Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Archiv Produktion
Catalog Number:439 780-2
Year Released/Recorded:1993/1994
Total Playing Time:120'39"
Comments:Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni said:

A new outstanding recording of the Ouvertures by Trevor Pinnock. I did love his previous recorded version, but this present one is wonderful. It reveals even deeper nuances of Bach's writing, and the clarity of the recording is unmatched. Also, a few sinfonias and the opening chorus of BWV 110 appear on this CD next to the Ouvertures: the sinfonia from "Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats" (BWV 42); the one from "Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht" (BWV 52); a chorus from "Unser Mund sei Voll Lachens" (BWV 110); the sinfonia from "Ich Liebe den Hoechsten von ganzem Gemuete" (BWV 174); and finally a sinfonia from the Easter Oratorio (BWV 249). For the first time, we hear the Choir of The English Concert performing Bach, and it is a very pleasant surprise. Overall, the new reference point for any performance of the Ouvertures, and a very interesting recording as a whole.

* A note: the precise term with which the four compositions (1066-1069) are named in the sources (scores and copies), is 'Ouvertures', and not 'Orchestral Suites', or 'Suites', or any other.

Alastair Asher said:

This is Trevor Pinnock's second recording of the orchestral suites (the first was in 1979/80 and is on the Brandenburg/Orchestral Suites box set).
The differences are a few. This recording uses a larger orchestra, so the sound is more lush. In the earlier version, he used solo violin in suite no.3 and soloists in suite no.2. In this, he does not. The flute soloist is different, also: in the earlier it was Stephen Preston and in this it is Lisa Beznosiuk, who I think is a really wonderful flute player. Another difference is that, as this is on 2 CDs, Pinnock was obviously allowed to take all the repeats, which he does even in the fabulously long first movements - in the suite in B minor, to hear the fugal opening again after the closing dotted section is a breathtaking experience. This brings some of the movements to over 10 minutes, but the more's the better, as far as I'm concerned. And it is marked like that in the score. In suite no.2, the tempi are much faster in general than in the earlier version, particularly in the ouverture and the badinerie (and I heard Pinnock perform this suite a few days ago, and it was even faster then!)
A note on the cantata sinfonias:
BWV 174 is the first movement of Brandenburg concerto no.3, with 2 horns, 3 oboes and more than one player to the 9 string parts. Quite an experience.
BWV 42 is a da capo cantata sinfonia, though as far as I know not related to any other of Bach's works.
BWV 52 is the 1st movement of Brandenburg concerto no.1, without solo violin, and with Pinnock playing organ continuo.
BWV 110 is the first movement of the 4th orchestral suite, with a full choir and soloists coming in at the fugue singing 'unser mund sei voll lachens' - something like, let our mouths be full of laughter, and on the word 'lachens', laughter, the gigue rhythm makes it sound like they are laughing 'ha ha ha ha ha'. Only Bach could compose something like this. Only Trevor Pinnock could make it sound this good.
This recording seems to have become quite rare while the earlier orchestral suites is not more available as it is on the Brandenburg compilation and on the cheap re-issue. That is a shame as this is a very relaxed, mature recording while the earlier was more edgy, and youthful (understandably).

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni
  • Alastair Asher
Date First Submitted:06/04/1998