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Good Introduction To Bach
on October 14, 2004
This CD is a good introduction to Johann Sebastian Bach at an extremely attractive price. The bulk of the performances featured are from the Mainz Chamber Orchestra, and the musicianship is generally competent, although there is occasionally a weakness in the horn section, particularly notable during the "Mass in B Minor." Still, the performances are pleasant to listen to, and will definitely accomplish the goal of this CD, which is to expose people to a sampling of Bach's works and make it a positive experience.
Musical selection here is interesting, ranging from pieces that nearly everyone has heard, to pieces that are relatively obscure. The best known piece on the CD is without question the "Toccata And Fugue In D Minor," a work for organ that was popularized in Hollywood ("Fantasia" and "Dracula") and is so embedded in American culture as a "horror" theme that it can still be seen on late night television, especially around Halloween. My favorite works on the CD are the "Brandenburg Concerto" excerpts (especially the magnificent "Brandenburg Concerto Number 3 in G," perhaps the most beautiful composition to emerge from the Baroque period), the delicate "Orchestral Suite Number 2 in B Minor," and the "Violin Concerto Number 2 in E." Also well represented for a sampler of this size are several works for harpsichords, of which Bach was the undisputed master.
In general I like the "25 Favorites" series, as they are inexpensive and let listeners explore different composers and musical styles at an extremely affordable price, although the quality does vary between the individual CDs; the Bach CD is better than the Beethoven offering, which is choppy and inconsistent, but not quite up to the Mozart CD, which seems more well-rounded. In general this is a great CD to expose a new listener to Bach, or to simply have handy for pleasure listening. I gave the disc four stars instead of five because most of the works here are edited for time (25 songs in 77 minutes only gives around three minutes for each track), which, while not generally glaring, does detract from the works as originally written.
If you are curious about Bach, this is a good CD to make the introduction.