Various Artists

Best Bach 50

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Best Bach 50 is an intelligently laid out collection of examples of J.S. Bach's most famous works, and its three CDs are filled with historic performances drawn from the vaults of EMI. The first disc, "The Sacred Genius of Bach," presents extracts from Bach's major choral religious works, the Mass in B minor, the St. John Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, the Magnificat, and a handful of the best-loved cantatas. The second and third CDs, "Bach the Impresario" and "The Dazzling Concertos of Bach," feature his concert works, in whole or in part, such as the Orchestral Suites; the Brandenburg Concertos No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5; the "Ricercare à 6" from the Musical Offering; and the concertos for various instruments. The performances have a date range from 1965 to 2000, so the series' usual problematic mix of ADD and DDD recordings should be expected, though because the majority of the tracks come from the 1990s, most listeners will enjoy the sound. Also, because of the vintage of most of the performances, the musicians play the music with a strong sympathy for historically informed performance practice, so there are few examples of traditional interpretations. Because this set is really intended as a basic foundation for beginners and as a jumping-off point to help listeners get acquainted with the riches of Bach, they are encouraged to go beyond these excerpts to find full performances, whether by the artists included in the set or elsewhere.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Mass in B minor, BWV 232
1 7:02
2 4:24
3 3:07
4 5:28
5 2:37
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, Cantata, BWV 147
6 2:15
Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, Cantata, BWV 51
7 4:18
Ich habe genug, Cantata, BWV 82a
8 7:45
Magnificat in D, BWV 243
9 3:00
10 2:04
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248
11 1:18
12 4:22
Passion according to St. John, BWV 245
13 1:33
14 5:09
15 8:05
Jesu, der du meine Seele, Cantata, BWV 78
16 5:14
Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, Cantata, BWV 106
17 2:14
18 8:58
blue highlight denotes track pick