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Bach: Transcriptions
Ottorino Respighi, Granville Bantock, Arthur Honegger
Bach: Transcriptions
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1


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Bring on More Brass, Please
Thomas F. Bertonneau | Oswego, NY United States | 10/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As the sawings on gut strings and the blattings on "period" woodwinds grate on my nerves the way fingernails dragged across a blackboard do, I welcome a revival of Bach played in transcriptions for a modern symphony orchestra, a tradition sustained and magnificently publicized although definitely not started by Leopold Stokowski during his tenure at Philadelphia. The earliest of the transcriptions recorded here, the one by Joachim Raff (1822-1882) of the solo-violin Chaconne, is among the richest, filled out in the necessary accompaniment by ingenious counterthemes and by rich, mid-nineteenth century harmonies. Ottorino Respighi and Arnold Schoenberg also dress up Bach in the accoutrements of Wagner and Mahler, the former with his colossal orchestration of the Passacaglia and Fugue and the latter with his brilliant symphonic adaptation of the "Saint Anne" Prelude and Fugue. Then there's the version of the "Fugue a la Gigue" by Gustav Holst, which comes from the same period as Holst's own Fugal Overture and Fugal Concerto. Arthur Honegger adds saxophones and a distinctly "Les Six" sound to his redoing of the Prelude and Fugue in C Major. There are rarities from Vaughan-Williams and Bach and from Sir Granville Bantock and Bach. I understand that Esa-Pekka Salonen has recorded a similar Bach-in-Big-Orchestra-Guise CD for Sony. Pearl once issued digital remasterings of Stoki's "go" at this stuff with the Philadelphia. It would be nice if that were still available. I hope that everyone comes to this table and digs in. Would you pass me some more brass, please?"
20th century look at Bach
Evan Wilson | Cambridge, MA | 09/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a very entertaining, if uneven, disc. It contains 9 transciptions of Bach done by 8 famous 20th century composers and 1 not-so-famous 19th century master. All the orchestrations are skillfully done, but some work better than others. For instance, it's hard not to crack a smile at the rather bombastic overkill that the Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor (BWV537) undergoes in the hands of Edward Elgar. Strangely, though, his transcription works better than Respighi's version of the Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor (BWV582) which is even more technicolor but doesn't seem to have a consistent orchestrational mindset. The Schoenberg version of the "St. Anne" Prelude and Fugue also suffers from too much cleverness, but it is a rousing experience.The best transcriptions seem to be those which don't try to inflate the music too music. Max Reger's string version of a chorale prelude is very touching. Similarly, although Arthur Honegger tilts his orchestration towards brighter, brassier colors, the music sings without being buried as it is in some of the "larger" orchestrations. I also very much enjoyed what Joachim Raff, the one 19th century representative, does with the Chaconne in D minor. Although there are big moments, it is the colorful use of the winds which make this transcription special.Leonard Slatkin plays it all straight, which is fine, since it allows us to appreciate the orchestration--the whole point of the disc. If you like this, search out the old Philadelphia Orch./Ormandy disc of Bach transcriptions which offers a more homogeneous set of orchestrations which highlight the orchestra's rich strings. That disc is, perhaps, more touching than this one because the orchestrations augment Bach without getting in the way as some on this disc do. Still, this CD is an entertaining and interesting experiment."
kelsie | Plainview, Texas United States | 09/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Hearing these pieces rendered by the BBC Phil and Slatkin is like hearing each one for the first time ever! Respighi's transcription of the Passacaglia and Fugue is very dramatic, replacing the organ's multitude of stops and pipes with the orchestra's many voices and tone colors. The Elgar transcription of the C Minor Fantasia and Fugue is infectiously light-hearted, especially in the Fugue, with its colorful, unexpected percussion entrances. Schoenberg's popular transcription of the St. Anne Prelude and Fugue is also rendered very nicely. The highest point of this disc, however, is undoubtedly Joachim Raff's transcription of the mighty Chaconne from the Partita II D minor. The Raff offering alternates between moments of wild abandon and exuberance to passages where only one or two instruments may be playing. His decision to have most of the arpeggios in the original played as actual chords (contrasting with Saito and Stokowski's transcriptions of this piece) creates a unique effect, and the abundance of countermelodies allows Raff his own unique voice while preserving the original as far as possible. This disc offers us a fascinating insight into the way Bach was heard right up until the mid-twentieth century, when he finally gained widespread popularity on his own. A must for any Bach collector, student, or enthusiast!"