"Esa-Pekka Salonen is given to eccentric and idiosyncratic readings of scores, not always to their disadvantage. This selectionof transcriptions of Bach works by other composers and conductors is by its very nature odd-ball, and Salonen makes the most of it. He is particularly effective with Elgar's interpretation of the fantasy and Fugue in C Minor. This is not a recording for Bach purists but for those who enjoy the sounds of a fleshed-out orchestra under the control of a masterful Romaticist. I give it five stars and a bullet and Salonen a hearty clap on the back for a job well done."
Back to Bach (Via Philadelphia)
Thomas F. Bertonneau | Oswego, NY United States | 10/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vulgarian and Neanderthal throwback that I am, I love this stuff, inordinantly. I think Stokowski a genius and precisely for his Bachwerk, his "arrangements" of the Leipzig master's keyboard compositions for full modern symphony orchestra. But Stoki labored in good company, for, as Esa-Pekka Salonen's new Sony anthology with the L.A. Philharmonic shows, Gustav Mahler, Sir Edward Elgar, Arnold Schoenberg, and Anton Webern inter alia all put their able hands to updating and amplifying Bach for a dynamo age. (As a matter of fact, Leonard Slatkin has recorded a similar, but even more variegated, CD, with the BBC Philharmonic, for Chandos.) We begin with Stoki's most famous (or infamous) transcription, the D-Minor Toccata and Fugue, made doubly notorious through its role as a kind of overture in the Disney film "Fantasia." Salonen competes with several recorded versions, going back to the late 1920s, with Stoki himself at the helm of the Philadelphia and other orchestras. He has, I believe, made the decision to do it the way Stoki did it, and the result is satisfying. (That is to say, technicolor, over-the-top, and cinematically glittering.) Next up? Elgar's miraculously pompous and circumstantial reworking of the Fantasy and Fugue in C-Minor (also on Slatkin's Chandos CD). Yep. Sounds like the First Symphony or one of those processionals. Relish it. Glory in it. Dann kommt ja Herr Webern, with his sound-coloristic treatment of the Ricercar from "A Musical Offering." Less grand, it is, than Elgar, but uncanny and hence welcome as a change of pace. In Arnold Schoenberg's hyper-romantic rethinking, the "Ste. Anne" Prelude and Fugue becomes a vast two-movement symphony, with the same orchestral palette as his own "Pelleas und Melisande" or "Gurrelieder." Stoki now makes another appearance, with his version of the "Little" Fugue in G Minor. At last, Gustav Mahler comes up to the plate with his arrangment of selections from the orchestral suites. Der "Gustl" offers perhaps the tamest stuff here, but it's still plenty meaty fare. Gimme more! I remember, for example, a mid-1970s LP of Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphians in arrangements of nothing but the fugues. There were eight of `em, as I recall. Then there was the Columbia LP of the London Symphonic Wind Ensemble doing Bach as Berlioz might have done him when he was writing the Symphonie Funebre et Triomphale. And is there a billionaire out there who will commission some needy living composers to orchestrate the Preludes and Fugues of that other contrapuntal master, Dmitri Shostakovich? Meanwhile, I'll keep playing the lottery."
Excellent recording...if transcriptions appeal to you
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/15/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"With all the new and exciting contemporary works that the LA Phil is presenting (not to mention the rethinking of some of the "old masters") I wonder why Salonen elected to put this selection on disc. The orchestra plays beautifully, the sound is elegant, but there is something that aproaches pedantic about this. Perhaps Salonen wants to exercise some of the influences on his own composing. Or perhaps this is an homage to the old tradition of creating various arrangements of well known music for a variety of ensembles. It is valuable as a curiosity, but it is doubtful that it will be one of your frequently played recordings. Why not Stucky or Lieberson or Reich or even the Gorecki 2nd Symphony instead.......?"
A Great Bach Recording
Grady Harp | 03/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tis is a collection of some of the best music suited for orchestra. Most of these works were originally for harpsichord and organ. They are played with such grace and elegance by L.A.P. Salonen does a fantastic job conducting. Thede pieces were brillantly arranged by the likes of Stokowsky, Webern, Mahler, Elgar, etc. These are among the most brilliant musicians ever. They are fantastic. The Tocatta and Fugue in d is powerful. The elegance of the suites are matched by nothing. The Air is so moving. The flutist is wonderful. This is an all around great c.d. for any Bach fan."
Bach for the orchestral fans
Grady Harp | 09/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not sure what other albums like this are out there so I can't compare this to them, but I do know that I got a big kick out of this CD. I have always liked Bach, but I truly love the rich colors of the modern symphony orchestra, which was not a medium available to Bach when he was alive. Fortuantely composers like Stokowski, Elgar, Mahler, and Webern took Bach's wonderful music and transcribed it for orchestra, and the effect is marvelous. Bach's music loses none of its depth and purity, yet it is beefed up by the big sounds of the orchestra. As always the LA Phil. is beautifully balanced under Salonen's baton and Sony's excellent engineering. This is an excellent CD with which to introduce someone to classical (especially Baroque era) music, as it has the timeless tunes of Bach transcribed into a language that the people of our popculture-centered society are more apt to understand and appreciate."