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|Johann Sebastian Bach, Gustav Leonhardt, Robert Kohnen|
J.S. Bach: Musical Offering, BWV1079
This extraordinary collection of music was an "offering" Bach made to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1740-1786). At a command performance in 1747, Frederick suggested a melody and Bach improvised on it at the organ.... more »
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This extraordinary collection of music was an "offering" Bach made to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1740-1786). At a command performance in 1747, Frederick suggested a melody and Bach improvised on it at the organ. Greatly impressed, the king rewarded the composer handsomely; Bach promptly went home to Leipzig and prepared an entire set of pieces based on the royal theme as a "musical offering" to the monarch. Frederick was himself a flutist and sometime composer, so Bach filled his offering with craft as well as art, no doubt knowing that his technical skill would be appreciated. A Musical Offering contains 10 ingenious canons, including a "perpetual" canon (these could, in theory, go on forever), "crab" canons (as one instrument plays its part, a second plays the same melody backward), and a "puzzle" canon (the musicians must figure out where the second voice is intended to enter); two ricercare (like fugues but less strict); and a trio sonata for flute, violin, and continuo. This 1974 recording was the first major Musical Offering recorded on period instruments, and the performers include Dutch early-music legends Gustav Leonhardt and the three Kuijken brothers. They give an elegant account of these erudite pieces--Leonhardt makes the opening Ricercar a 3 Voci sound almost majestic (on a harpsichord, no less)--and the Kuijkens play the trio sonata sweetly and soulfully. --Matthew Westphal
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Juan David Gonzalez Cobas | Gijon, Asturias Spain | 11/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I own various top-level performances of this masterpiece of J.S. Bach's, and this is by far the best one I have heard. Its most outstanding virtue is the tremendous sharpness and transparency in the phrasing of contrapuntal lines. Some points could be better (e.g., a faster tempo in the Ricercar a 6), but this barely darkens the general bright of this recording."
The best of all Musical Offerings
Peter G. Watchorn | Cambridge, MA USA | 10/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have owned this recording ever since it was first issued on lp in 1981 (recorded in 1974). First, Gustav Leonhardt's performances of the two ricercare are beyond praise. Second, the performances by the Kuijken brothers and Robert Kohnen of the canons and trio sonata are impeccably expressive and suave. This recording has not been superceded even by the Kuijkens' later one on DHM (on which Kohnen plays the two ricercare as well as all the ensemble pieces). This will probably never be bettered, so buy it while you can. For those interested, the Kuijkens have also made a DVD of the Musical Offering, recorded in Leipzig, a useful supplement to the present release. The cd doesn't make entirely clear exactly who plays what, so, for your information, taken from the original lp:
Leonhardt plays on tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (with Kohnen). Kohnen plays the rest (including the trio sonata). Highest recommendation."
M. H. Page | S. San Francisco, CA USA | 04/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a confirmed Bach-head and lover of contrapuntal music, this is a must recording. Gustav Leonhardt is one of the foremost Bach scholars and master harpsichordists of our time. He and his fellow musicians have given us a beautifully clean and transparent interpretation of Bach's "Musical Offering" to Fredrick the Great. Although this is a re-mastered recording from 1974, it is sonicly very pleasing. Highly recomended."