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.

Ten Recordings for a Deserted Island

Yaeyama Islands & Sekisei Coral Lagoon, Okinawa, Japan (image by NASA) It's an often-framed theme: given the opportunity to enjoy just ten recordings through which to enjoy many countless hours waiting for salvation from a deserted island, which ones would you choose from your collection? I've collected CDs for over twenty years now. Choosing just ten is tough. These would be my ten, many of them have not been in my collection for too many years, which is likely a good sign, that the best might be yet to come. 1. Johann Sebastian Bach: The Musical Offering, recorded in 1996 by Ensemble Sonnerie on Virgin Veritas. Monica Huggett, director. 2. Johann Friedrich Meister: Il Giardino del piacere, recorded in 2004 by Musica Antiqua Köln on Berlin Classics. Reinhard Goebel, director. 3. La Tarantella - Antidotum Tarantulae, recorded in 2002 by L'Arpeggiata on Alpha. Christina Pluhar, director. 4. Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note - Complete Recordings, recorded in 1995 by the Keith Jarrett Trio on ECM. 5. The Goat Rodeo Sessions, recorded by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile in 2011 on Sony. 6. Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge, recorded in 1984 by Musica Antiqua Köln on DG Archiv Produktion. Reinhard Goebel, director. 7. Corelli's Legacy, recorded in 2010 by Musica Antiqua Roma on Passacaille. Riccardo Minasi, director. 8. Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi: Concerti & Praeludia, recorded in 1998 by Skip Sempé and Olivier Fortin on Astrée. 9. Johann Sebastian Bach: Kantaten BWV 12, 78, 150 & Motette BWV 118, recorded in 2009 by Ensemble Akadêmia on Zig-Zag. Françoise Lasserre, director. 10. Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonates BWV 1027-1029, Chorals & Trios, recorded in 2009 by Bruno Cocset, Bertrand Cuiller and Richard Myron on Alpha. The absence of Biber might be a surprise; certainly if I had to pick just one recording of Biber it would be Goebel's Rosenkranz-Sonaten. But Bach dominates, in full, because he's my favorite composer. His "last two major works" BWV 1079-1080 are represented by my favorite recordings of each. Goebel's set the standard, and I like his arrangement using mostly strings in the texture. Sonnerie's solution to BWV 1079 works for me, too, with the color chosen in many of the canons. I find Huggett's solutions far more credible than those by Concerto Italiano or Akamus with their readings with winds of BWV 1080. Meister's collection is not the most profound of music, but it's the swan song of my favorite ensemble, Musica Antiqua Köln. The first half of the CD is the strongest, and it's played with conviction in much the same style as their 1984 reading of BWV 1080. I like L'Arpeggiata's approach to performance, and this recording takes me often to another world. For that alone, not to mention the textures, it's the playful choice among the ten. I am a fan of jazz too, and Jarrett's large set from New York in the mid-1990s is a good choice for its length and variety. It has some of my favorite tracks, including The Fire Within. Cross-over of some type, Ma's recording with Duncan, Thile, and Meyer is a special brand of music making. The quality of the music is high, and contributions from all players is special, especially Thile and Meyer. Less is Moi has become a favorite of mine. I am a fan of baroque violin - Minasi's really strong in this collection of Italian sonatas. There's so much confidence and good sound, it's hard to ignore this CD. I'm also a fan of harpsichord, but this CD is the knock-out example of it all going overboard. Fortin and Sempé make a good pair to play in tandem. The result is golden and glittery. Back to Bach. Cocset's reading with organ continuo is delicious. It reminds me of ripe fruit ready to split open, sweet and fragrant. Beautiful playing and sound. The recording of cantatas by Akadêmia was a special find; it has a beautiful sound and reading that helped me take notice of Bach's music. I'd ignored these works before, but this ensemble and its excellent soloists helped make the music really speak. And the result is profound. I did not put these in any particular order, despite my numbering.

Chris Thile: Bach Sonatas and Partitas, volume 1

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