I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Red Priest plays Masterworks by J.S. Bach

#alttext# The ensemble named for Antonio Vivaldi, Red Priest, has recorded 23 tracks of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, entitled "Johann, I'm Only Dancing," and it's fun-filled recording of some of Bach's more toe-tapping hits. This period ensemble plays with passion and speed quite unlike most ensembles, turning their focus on the extremes. This is baroque music with the volume turned up, full-tilt. It won't be everyone's tea, but I find their approach fun and if they decide to push the music to the limits, all the better that we've tried. There is much to appreciate. These are all arrangements for recorder (the most gifted of the musicians, with incredible technique), violin, cello, and harpsichord. We're treated to such tracks as: * BWV 1006.1 * BWV 1034.3 * BWV 565 * Various preludes, fugues * BWV 1020 * English suite bourée (my favorite track) * BWV 1048 The opening work is of course ultra-famous, and they do an excellent job at orchestrating the work also scored by Bach for solo violin; the whole time, you know they're being challenged, but they're also likely having a lot of fun. It's infectious. The organ piece, BWV 565 is yet another famous work, here the amount of notes doesn't slow them down. We can sit back, if you dare, but you'll be blown away by the articulation from that recorder. I find the cello is less strong, with the harpsichordist and recorder providing the most solid support between all the tracks. I'm glad it's not all fire; the folks also know how to slow down and offer us some slower movements, without getting overly romantic and sappy. In pieces such as the full trio sonata, BWV 1020, they take certain liberties with pauses and dramatic phrasing that most ensembles won't do--but somehow it's part of their schtick, which is fine by me. Track 15, mislabeled I believe as from English Suite #3, is a bourée that simply amazes. This is the star of the recording, that both illustrates this ensembles strengths and the sheer genius of Johann Sebastian Bach. Really outstanding. You also get the Badinerie played on the super-high sopranino recorder from BWV 1067. If you haven't had your tweeters cleaned lately, this piece will do it for you, free of charge. Toe tapping for sure, and it's almost to the point of showing off virtuosity. But Bach's music can tolerate it. Somewhat amazing is Brandenburg #3 for such small forces; they cannot play all the parts, so this is the most "compromised" of pieces for the re-orchestration involved. Yet, they still make good music out of the arrangement, despite some imbalance between all the players. If nothing else, you'll once again admire Bach's genius, with him smiling, of course, as the ensemble rips through that last movement. Lots of notes, folks. And I'm confident you''ll be smiling too. Great fun, highly recommended for fans of Bach's music.


Monteverdi Vespers