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Switched-On Bach Original recording reissued

4.7 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Tracklist: 1 Sinfonia To Cantata # 29 3:20 2 Air On The G String 2:27 3 Two-Part Invention In F Major 0:40 4 Two-Part Invention In B-Flat Major 1:30 5 Two-Part Invention In D Minor 0:55 6 Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring 2:56 7 Prelude And Fugue # 7 In E-Flat Major 7:17 8 Prelude And Fugue # 2 In C Minor 2:43 9 Chorale Prelude "Wachet Auf" 3:37 Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 In G Major 10 I-Allegro 6:35 11 II-Andante (First, 1968 Version) 2:50 12 III-Allegro 5:05

Product Details

  • Performer: Benjamin Folkman
  • Composer: Wendy Carlos
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: CBS Masterworks
  • ASIN: B0000024Q9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,526 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Schmidt on August 29, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After Bob Moog's death one week ago, I found myself listening to everything I have in my collection that was performed on a Moog synthesizer. This includes all of the Carlos stuff, all of Hans Wurmans's material (commercially released and otherwise) that I am lucky to have..it's harder to find..., and that of other artists and non-so-artistic performers. I even listened to my own opus from college electronic music lab and my own subsequent multi-track home studio work with my two MiniMoogs + MicroMoog.

In all of this, there is no way to get around the fact that the original Switched-On-Bach is the paramount of analog synthesizer performances known to me. I estimate that since a grade school music teacher first played the opening track for us when SOB first came out, and I begged my very reluctant, classically trained, serious-musician parents to buy me the LP, that I have listened to the album almost 2000 times.

I am a classical musician, recording engineer, and hear tons of music daily. I never get tired of J.S. Bach's music, and the amazing performances of Walter/Wendy Carlos do not wear thin. I have a pretty good idea of how Carlos put these tracks together, and why, and over what time period and under what conditions. I know how hard it is to pay Bach's complex music well, and I am very familiar with the huge difficulties in even approximating those performance values on multi-tracked synthesizer without MIDI, computer assistance, or sequencers. I also know that Carlos did this work at home using a very limited home-built multi-track recorder and mixer, on an instrument that was not at all refined, even for an early synth. And yet the music sings, and jumps out of the speakers, and dances and lives.

The work of others is simple organ playing by comparison. Carlos did the impossible, and the results are still marvelous today.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I fondly remember wearing out the original LP version of this recording when it came out, I listened to it so much. (Actually, one of the best things about having this CD is that it doesn't have the skips and clicks that I memorized as if they were part of Bach's music...) Having it back in my listenable collection is a treat.
Granted, these performances do not compete with the kinds of things that people can do with synths and computers nowadays. But it certainly was VERY different when it originally came out. It opened whole new vistas that Carlos and others have been exploring ever since. The VERY free rendering of the second movement of the 3rd Brandenburg can still hold its own with some of the latest synth stuff.
The last track ("Initial Experiments") is an added bonus. It consists of Carlos explaining some of the ideas that were originally tried when doing the recording, along with some of those cast-off takes. For the technically inclined, something that's especially interesting is an explanation of "tuned white noise", which is one of the timbres that I could not figure out how to reproduce when I had an electronic music class in college (in the late 70's), and had to fight with a Moog similar to what Carlos used. The instrument was a beast -- getting one sound just right could take hours.
Do you absolutely HAVE to own this recording? Not unless you're a music history professor, or a collector of historic recordings. But it's still just as much fun as it was back then.
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Format: Audio CD
When I was a kid, my parents had a turntable. (The kind that
plays the black round things they used to call records.) They
had probably fifty records; this is the only one I remember.
I've since looked through the old boxes of records, and there's
quite a variety of stuff: everything from Messiah to Ray
Stevens. I'm told I listened to all of it (until the turntable
broke when I was in elementary school), but this is the album
I never forgot. It is probably the bulk of the reason that
today I like baroque music in general and J.S. Bach in
particular more than any other music.
Played this way, Bach really *moves*. It makes you want to
move, too. You can't get it out of your head, and you don't
want to. Now that I know it's still available I'm getting
the boxed set, but if you only get one album, get this one.
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Format: Audio CD
Any discussion that gets hung up on the instrumentation of this record misses that, here, Carlos gets the feeling of Bach's music nailed, track after track. This is a player on a mission. Note how the material is cleverly sequenced for maximum liveliness and variety. Then, mysteriously, after this album was a left-field hit, Carlos did the amusing, spooky "Clockwork Orange" soundtrack and that was about it for quality performances. The rest is sacred only to her cult. But the original Switched-On is far more than a nostalgia item. It documents one human's passion overcoming the technological limitations of that era's crude synths.
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Format: Audio CD
Wendy Carlos's iconic album, "Switched on Bach," is a favorite of many. Released for the first time in the year 1968, "Switched on Bach," is the best-selling classical record of all time. Why does Carlos's rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach's classics have such a mass appeal? There are many reasons that attribute to the album's success (in my humble opinion).
During the 1950's and 1960's, voltage-controlled and computer-generated synthesizers and sequencers were taking the electronic music scene by storm. Carlos's work is no exception. The instrument of Carlos's choosing was an analog synthesizer known as the Moog. The voltage-controlled Moog was invented by a Mister Robert Moog in 1967. Analog synthesizers use analog circuits and analog computer techniques to make sounds electronically. The Moog specifically uses electronic modules that are connected to one another by patch cables. The instrument is smaller, cheaper and much more reliable than vacuum-tube-based systems, which were popular before the invention of synthesizers. The Moog's convenient portability and lower cost allowed more people to gain access to the instrument, and even perform the instrument live in concert.
Wendy Carlos released her album, "Switched on Bach," only a year after the invention and debut of the commercial availability of the Moog. As an early user of the Moog synthesizer, Carlos helped popularize the technology. To this day Wendy Carlos is arguably still the most notable Moog player, and her highly successful album, "Switched on Bach," is definitely the most consumed and well praised Moog-produced album. When the instrument was first invented, it was much more difficult to use than it is today.
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