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VINE VOICEon March 21, 2012
A real delight that this set from the storied Vanguard classical label is being offered for such a rock-bottom price -- according to Amazon, because it's Bach's birthday on March 21.

Do not let the bargain-basement price fool you, however -- these are excellent performances. The set starts out with a full Mass in B Minor featuring New York's lauded Baroque and Classical choral group Amor Artis under its conductor and founder, Johannes Somary, with the English Chamber Orchestra. (The CD of this performance can be found here.) A really fine performance in period spirit (though I'm not sure if the instruments were period or not). The sound is gorgeous, well worth hearing at any price.

Then we have Partita No. 2 from Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti's complete set of Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin. Szigeti was one of the greats in the early/mid-20th century, and my only regret is that we have just one of his six Bach solo violin performances here. The sound is not perfect by today's standards, but it will be just fine for all but the persnickety. Szigeti's brilliant musicianship shines through just fine.

The set then heads into harpsichord territory, which I must admit is not my own preferred terrain. This full album of harpsichord concertos is featured -- including fugue-drenched concertos for two, three and even four harpsichords. This is followed by two sonatas for flute and harpsichord taken from this album.

Another outstanding performer makes an appearance then -- Hungarian piano virtuoso Andras Schiff, one of the finest pianists to come out of central Europe in the latter half of the 20th century. The Italian Concerto and French Suite (both from this Vanguard CD) are both pretty wonderful.

We then move to a complete set of all four Orchestral Suites played by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra under its erstwhile postwar leader, Felix Prohaska. A big, sweet sound, I believe from the 1950s.

Finally we end close to where we started -- with the English Chamber Orchestra under Johannes Somary for a complete set of the Brandenburg Concertos, taken from this 2-CD set, which is now selling for 90 dollars (!?). Fine, intimate-sounding chamber recordings, well worth hearing.

Full download size for almost exactly nine hours of fine Bach is 891 MB. Bitrates are variable, and range from an average of 141 kbps (on the Szigeti) to 267 kbps.

Warmly recommended! Snap it up at the bargain price if you can, but worth considering any time.
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on April 3, 2012
I got this for 99 cents while on special. Glad I did not pay $9.99. Tracks 29 and 80 have some serious playback flaws that have also been noted by others at the same spots. There may be more, as I have not gotten through the whole set. While this seems picky, it does ruin some fine music making. The flaw in track 80 the "Forlane" of the Orchestral Suite # 1 is particularly serious. Shades of poorly pressed LPs...have we returned to that era?

These are performances I "grew up" on and am glad to have them back in my collection. The 3 Star rating is for the problems in playback.
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on November 28, 2012
I certainly can't fault the value of this collection - it's spectacular. I can only say that, on a personal level, I prefer a more restrained Bach. I haven't listened through this entire recording, but much of it seems to me to be Bach played as Tchaikovsky. I may be wrong, of course - as I say, I haven't listened through. And this is certainly personal. But for those looking for more historical Bach, this may not be the best option.
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on March 21, 2012
This collection is stellar! I'll be listening for many hours to come. The B-Minor Mass performance is just sublime. You're off your rocker if you don't spend the buck to get this amazing set.
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on April 2, 2013
99¢ for some darn good Bach recordings.

This download starts off with Johannes Somary's recording of the B-Minor Mass, a recording that totally escaped my attention over the decades. He's joined by the ECO, a fine quartet of soloists and his Amor Artis Chorale in a recording I should have heard years ago. For some reason, the Osanna movement gets played 3 times, rather than two times. I wonder if there was a mix-up during my downloading of this file. In addition, there are some annoying stops between tracks that should segue into each other, no doubt having something to do with the way MP3 tracks are coded for playback.

The set also includes the compete Brandenburgs under Somary, the Orchestral Suites with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra (aka the Vienna Philharmonic) under Felix Prohaska, French Suites with Andras Schiff, as well as recordings featuring Joseph Szigeti, Anton Heiller (wonderful in the Harpsichord Concerti) and others. The recorded sound on the Orchestral Suites is rather distant and shows its age. The sound on the Harpsichord Concerti is great.

Still, a marvelous collection at an unbelievable price.
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on May 12, 2015
Andras Schiff is a "top tier" virtuoso pianist. The tracks featuring him alone are worth purchasing this album. I tend to prefer his style of playing, and of course his technical proficiency is as good as it gets. Before I saw his name I have to admit I hesitated purchasing this album as I am not a huge fan of vocal music. But once I listened to the Mass in B Minor I was pleasantly surprised.

It would have been nice to have been able to get it on sale, but I didn't feel like waiting for it. Also, the errors in tracks 29 and 80 have been fixed!
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on April 9, 2013
The price for this collection is just rediculously cheap. I have all of the works in this collection on CD and by performers of my personal, discriminating choice. The reason that I bought this collection is for convenience. I thought that it would be nice to have the versatility and portability to be able to listen to music of my choosing while using my Kindel Fire as a reader and the cost of the collection is next to nothing. I enjoy very much being able to listen to these works in the background while reading. The performances are very satisfactory. I am amazed, jealous and very thankful that today people have such vast collections of the world's finest music available at dirt cheap prices. I have spent a life time searching and acquiring my music collection at significant expense (and nevermind the replacement costs in the evolution from LP to Reel-to-Reel to CD)
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on September 26, 2014
Though the interpretations are occasionally lackluster and odd, especially in the solo voice and choral performances, how can you afford NOT to have this for only $8.99!? If any part of you enjoys Bach at all, do yourself a favour and buy this set now.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon March 27, 2012
I literally feel like I just stole music. The fact that I used a free Prime MP3 credit aside, $0.99 seems like daylight robbery for 120 tracks of Herr Bach's finest. At first I was a little wary - I have heard what poorly performed classical music sounds like and it has put me off of several pieces entirely, in the past, but this compilation features some VERY fine performances.

The Mass in B Minor intro is rather enjoyable, but my favorites have to be the French suites!

For $1, you would be crazy not to buy this now! A local store could be giving this away and you would spend more on gas going to pick it up!

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on March 28, 2012
This is a superb collection of Bach's works, from some great artists. Thise of us who were in London in the 70's will appreciate the artistry of the singers Helen Watts, Felicity Lott, Michael Rippon and Robert Tear who are the soloists in the B Minor Mass. Also Szigeti's Partita and Schiff's French Suite and Italian Concerto. The Orchestral suites sound a little old fashioned now but they are played well by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra (made up of Vienna Philharmonic Players - as they had to be members of both.
At 99c this was a real steal. At $8.99 Amazon need to fix the errors in Track 29 and 80. I repported these to Amazon and they allowed me to download again - but the errors persist.
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