In many ways an exemplary recording
Leslie Richford | Selsingen, Lower Saxony | 03/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Recorded at two sessions during 1998 at Germany?s national radio station (?DeutschlandRadio?), this disk is in many ways exemplary. The music is played against the background of historical research into Bach?s style and is able to stand up to comparison with the performance of even top-class period instrument ensembles ? although it should be underscored that the Cologne Chamber Orchestra plays on modern instruments, whose sound is, to my ears, sharper and more metallic than that of the usual 18th century orchestra. But Helmut Müller-Brühl has chosen pretty much ideal tempi and uses decidedly baroque phrasing and rhetoric, making the question of what instruments are used to recede into the background. Of course, it is not only the style but the finesse with which is played that adds to the grand impression given. And coupled with this is the excellent recording quality, better, I think, than anything I have heard from Naxos (with the exception of their Mussorgsky SACD). And the accompanying booklet can easily match most of what is produced at three or four times the price by other labels: essays in three languages, information about the orchestra and the soloist (Karl Kaiser), black-and-white photographs and a table showing Bach?s entire orchestral production (the CD is Volume 8 of a series presenting Bach?s entire orchestral output). This is eminently satisfying material, my only query being that if you are going to record Bach in such a wonderfully historically-informed performance, why not go the whole way and use period instruments? It is this query that prevents me giving the CD five stars, especially as I still have a preference for the old (1979) recording by The English Concert under the leadership of Trevor Pinnock (published by Deutsche Grammophon Archiv together with the Brandenburg Concertos in a 3-CD box)."