Bach: Orchestral Suites Nos. 2-4

Neville Marriner

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Bach: Orchestral Suites Nos. 2-4 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Neville Marriner's 1985 recordings with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields of Bach's Orchestral Suites Nos. 2-4 are admirable for their meticulous musicianship, close approximation of period practice, and fine digital sound for the time. Only one caveat is worth mentioning, that the Academy plays modern instruments; purists will miss the exquisite timbres that only Baroque instruments or faithful replicas can produce. All the same, most listeners will appreciate these credible and energetic performances, particularly of the Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067, which is given a rather robust character and played with as much panache as the more extroverted suites that follow. Naturally, the brass dominate the Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068, and the Suite No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069, and the ensemble makes these works sound festive and jubilant. But the Air of the Suite No. 3 (also known as the "Air on the G string") impresses with its contrasting introspection, and the Academy plays it with exceptional tenderness. Completists who enjoy this disc will seek out the recording of the Orchestral Suite No. 1 on EMI 69878, which features performances of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 and No. 6.

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