Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Johann Sebastian Bach, Karl Ristenpart, Orchestre de Chambre|
Bach: Oeuvres pour Orchestre [Box Set]
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Classical
The original recording is a treasure, but I miss the stereo
A reader | Santa Cruz, CA USA | 08/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Ristenpart recording of the Brandenburgs, originally available on LP from Nonesuch, has always been one of my favorites, and it was great to find this on CD.
Unfortunately, the Brandenburg appears to be not stereo, but not exactly mono either. I went back to the LP and confirmed that it has nice stereo imaging. But if I look at the CD version in a waveform editor, the left and right channels appear almost, but not quite, identical. If I invert one of the channels and add them together to get the difference between the two channels, the difference is not exactly zero; instead, I hear a reverberant and very scratchy sound. One would expect the difference signal to be high in reverberation, but I can't explain the scratchiness. It sounds like an artifact of some sort. I don't notice the scratchiness when I listen to the overall recording, but, as mentioned, I don't get the stereo imaging either. It's too bad, because the original recording is a real treasure.
I think most or all of the other recordings in this set are in stereo. I wouldn't part with this collection, but I don't think I'll give away the Nonesuch LP either."
Heath K. Hignight | 02/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've yet to make it through the entire set of CDs here, but having grown up on this particular orchestration of Die Kunst Der Fuge, the box is worth it just for this reissue. For those who know or own the original Nonesuch 4xLP, be aware that this transfer is wonderfully clean but certain overtones gain emphasis you might not have heard on the vinyl. Nevertheless, the breathtaking silence at the end of the final fugue, which trails off at the point Bach reached before his death, is more haunting in this version than on the original vinyl."
Johannes Climacus | Beverly, Massachusetts | 05/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Listeners of a certain generation will surely remember most or all of the performances anthologized here, since they were consistently available during the LP era on the Nonesuch label. Many of us learned our Brandenburgs, Orchestral Suites, 2- and 3- clavier concerti and Art of Fugue in these invigorating renditions. Hearing them again after many years (and many other recordings of these pieces) provides a timely reminder of Ristenpart's superb artistry, as well as a whiff of nostalgia. These do not pretend to be ultra-scholarly period performance practice interpretations (even by the standards of Ristenpart's day). Ristenpart employs a modest-sized but ample sounding ensemble of modern instruments, and the transcription of *Kunst der Fuge* is of nearly symphonic proportions. Yet Ristenpart manages, overall, to secure lean textured and rhythmically vital playing that captures the spirit, of not the letter, of late Baroque style.
The set is worth owning for the splendid Brandenburgs alone. The soloists are first-rate, the ensemble playing is crisp, and Ristenpart sets near-perfect tempos in every concerto. More importantly, Ristenpart evokes a sense of lively enjoyment from his players that provides an antidote to the routinized professionalism one often encounters in performances of these works. Overall, the Suites are less impressive; there are moments of unsteady intonation in the winds and the brass tend to blare (as they often did in Bach recordings of this period). Ristenpart also omits repeats in the "Overtures," which may annoy some listeners. On the other hand, the dance movments are nicely sprung, and there's some beautifully honed playing (particularly from the flautist) in the Second Suite.
The multiple harpsichord concerti (alas, not a complete set) are hugely enjoyable; this is robust yet articulate Bach playing. Yes, there are moments of jangliness, as there often are when modern harpsichords are employed in these works instead of period instruments. But the sheer joie de vivre of these performances will win you over in the end. The Triple Concerto gets one of its few truly successful renditions--one which conveys its jaunty galant qualities without slighting its whimsical melancholy.
Many listeners will enjoy the Marcel Bitsch/Claude Pascal realization of the *Art of Fugue* included in this set. It favors a kaleidoscopic interplay of strings, winds, and (in the final Contrapunctus only) brass reinforcements. Some listeners might find this instrumentation illuminating, others distracting, but I find that it it works well, keeping tedium at bay, over the long haul of 19 fugues and canons, performed at moderate tempos. Other "realizations" of this sublime work have different points in their favor; the one Scherchen prepared for his Westminster stereo recording and also used for a live performance with the Toronto Symphony (still available from Tahra, I believe) is probably the most effective among those with which I am familiar. I would also strongly recommend Malloch's ingeniously transgressive version--complete with freshly composed, PDQ Bach-ish tropes, jazz and rock inflections, offbeat hand clapping and other strokes of sheer madness; a splendid live performance of this venture, conducted by Lukas Foss, and issued under the title "The Art of Fuguing," may be found on a Sheffield Lab CD, probably now out of print. Meanwhile, you will derive much enjoyment from the version included in this Ristenpart retrospective.
To sum up: This box contains some real treasures from the early LP era. Ristenpart was one of the great pioneers of the Baroque Revival of that period, and listeners who are willing to put up with some occasionally strident mono/early stereo sonics and some now-dated performance practice, will find a great deal to admire in Ristenpart's lively, warm-hearted, and rigorous Bach recordings. The remastering hasn't done much to improve the sound, but that should not deter prospective purchasers from acquring this indispensible reminder of Ristenpart's achievement.
Note also that the Accord label has reissued some of Ristenpart's treasurable Bach cantata recordings in a double CD album that includes the "Coffee" and "Peasant" along with "Ich habe Genug," "Kreutzstab" (both with Stämpfli as soloist), "Wachet Auf," (beautifully done) and BWV 169."