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153 CDs representing nearly four decades of Bach performance on period instruments “a lifetime’s exalted listening, invariably presented with love, enthusiasm and conscientious musicianship.” - Gramophone The Complete Bach Edition, 153 CDs in 12 volumes comprising Bach’s complete works performed by world renowned Bach interpreters on period instruments, constitutes one of the most ambitious projects in recording history. The Complete Bach Edition represents the culmination of a process that began over five decades ago, in 1958, with the creation of the DAS ALTE WERK label. After initially triggering an impassioned controversy, Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s belief that “Early music is a foreign language which must be learned by musicians and listeners alike” has found widespread acceptance. He and his colleagues searched for original instruments to throw new light on composers and their works and significantly influenced the history of music interpretation in the second half of this century. Their ideas have been shared by many fellow musicians, among them Ton Koopman, Il Giardino Armonico, Luca Pianca and Andreas Staier, all of whose performances appear in the COMPLETE BACH Edition. As an entirety, the Complete Bach Edition offers listeners the chance to rediscover the astonishing developments in Bach interpretation of the last forty years and the tonal beauties of Bach’s works performed on period instruments. Without Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s and Gustav Leonhardt’s groundbreaking accounts of the cantatas, a complete Bach edition would have been inconceivable. But with the recording of Bach's Complete Sacred Cantatas as inspiration, not to mention Harnoncourt’s 1970 St. Matthew Passion and Gustav Leonhardt’s legendary 1965 account of the Goldberg Variations, the early 1990's found Teldec in an extraordinary position: able to embark on the artistic, financial and logistical adventure to record and license recordings of the remainder of Bach’s oeuvre and present a complete edition in time for the 250th anniversary of his death. From Schleicht, spielende Wellen, BWV 206, recorded by the Monteverdi Choir Hamburg, Amsterdam Chamber Orchestra, Jürgen Jürgens and André Rieu in 1963 to the Trio in A major, BWV 1025 with Werner Ehrhardt and Gerald Hambitzer recorded in April 1999, COMPLETE BACH chronicles nearly four decades of Bach performance on period instruments. By 1995, the year in which the project the Complete Bach Edition was conceived, Teldec had already committed approximately two thirds of Bach's oeuvre to disc. Subsequently the company produced approximately twenty new recordings specifically for The Complete Bach Edition. Many of these new recordings were of works never before available on disc, including chorales, as well as works for organ and works for harpsichord. Criteria for a Complete Bach Edition The Complete Bach Edition includes all works that modern scholarship regards as authentically composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. Where Bach made extensive changes to works in order to adapt them to meet the demands of later performances, the alternative versions have also been included. Incomplete works have been included when their musical substance was deemed valuable, although where fragments consist of only a few bars, these are not included. COMPLETE BACH also includes a handful of reconstructions of lost works, the existence of which is fully verified but which have not survived as such. Finally, a few inauthentic pieces are included, where they are inextricably associated with Bach’s name and are so familiar that their exclusion would have been regretted. “I have never felt that Bach’s work was in any way routine […]. Each new cantata, each new aria is an adventure, an exciting discovery. […] I know of no other composer who explores the whole range of music from the strictest counterpoint to romantic expressionism and who at the same time pushes back the boundaries of that world as comprehensively as Bach” - Nikolaus Harnoncourt Groups of Works Included in Teldec’s Complete Bach Edition Central to the Complete Bach Edition are the sacred cantatas, recorded between 1971 and 1989 by the Concentus Musicus Wien under Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Leonhardt Consort under Gustav Leonhardt with soloists including Barbara Bonney, Thomas Hampson, Paul Esswood, Kurt Equiluz, Max van Egmond and Robert Holl. This was the first complete edition of the sacred cantatas performed on period instruments in the history of the gramophone and remains so to this day. The set won the Erasmus Prize in 1980, before it was even completed. Ton Koopman and his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra subsequently recorded the secular cantatas. Bach wrote over 400 chorale settings but left no collection of his own in the form of a published or publishable volume of chorales. His pupil, Johann Philipp Kirnberger, went to great lengths to make good this omission. Between 1784 and 1787 four volumes appeared in print containing a total of 371 chorale settings, most of which are familiar to us from the composer’s cantatas, motets, oratorios and Passions. But there are around 186 chorales that cannot be ascribed to surviving works or were part of lost compositions or teaching material. These have been collected and recorded in their entirety for the first time ever by the Rundfunkchor Berlin under its British-born conductor Robin Gritton. With regard to the rarely performed or recorded Schemelli Songs, there is disagreement about the authenticity of several of these. For the Complete Bach Edition Teldec has selected those known to be authentic and most likely to be authentic; they are performed by Christoph Prégardien, Klaus Mertens, Ton Koopman and Jaap ter Linden. Bach’s fame in his own lifetime rested not only on his gifts as a composer but also, and more especially, on his exceptional abilities as an organist. Since 1994, Ton Koopman has recorded Bach’s complete works for organ on famous historic organs in the Netherlands and Germany. Foremost among these are the instruments in Freiberg Cathedral, built by Gottfried Silbermann, an organ builder with whom Bach had a professional association, and the organ in Hamburg’s Jacobikirche, built by Arp Schnitger For Bach’s complete works for keyboard, the Complete Bach Edition has chosen to use the harpsichord. Included are such releases as Gustav Leonhardt’s groundbreaking account of the Goldberg Variations as well as recent recordings of Bach's transcriptions of the sonatas after Reincken by Andreas Staier, toccatas by Bob van Asperen and concertos, fugues and other works by harpsichordist Michele Barchi. Barchi also plays the Suites BWV 996 and 997 on a historic lute-harpsichord specially built for this Edition. Additional lute works are performed by Luca Pianca, an internationally acclaimed lutenist and theorbo player and a co-founder of Il Giardino Armonico. The Cello Suites were recorded by Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 1965 and appear in the Complete Bach Edition for the first time on CD. The edition includes Bach's solo violin works performed by Thomas Zehetmair and the violin sonatas performed by Alice Harnoncourt (violin), Nikolaus Harnoncourt (viola da gamba) and Herbert Tachezi (harpsichord). Of the orchestral repertoire, the Brandenburg Concerti are represented by the highly acclaimed Il Giardino Armonico recordings released in 1997. The orchestral suites are performed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the harpsichord concerti by Gustav Leonhardt. Also included in the Complete Bach Edition are Nikolaus Harnoncourt's 1970 legendary recording of the St Matthew Passion with Concentus musicus Wien and the Arnold Schoenberg Chor as well as his 1995 recording of the St John Passion with the same forces.