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Cat. No. CHAN 10282 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10282 - Stokowski's Symphonic Bach, Volume 2
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Audio Sample

Available From: 07 February 2005
Stokowski wrote ‘Certain of Bach’s conceptions are so gigantic that they need a large canvass. If Bach had the superb orchestras of today at his command, what glorious music he would have created’. This ethos is well demonstrated in his dramatic orchestral arrangement of the mighty Chaconne in D minor for Partita No. 2 and the dazzling Preludio in E which becomes a virtuoso showpiece for the full orchestral strings instead of just the single violinist for whom it was originally written.

It is apparent from these arrangements that Stokowski had enormous affection for the works of Bach. His manuscript of the Arioso – the theme of which is played in full-blooded style by the violins, violas and cellos – carries Stokowski’s comments ‘this melody, one of the most beautiful ever created by Bach’. The Fantasia and Fugue in G minor was premiered in Philadelphia during the time of the Depression and, for financial reasons, the orchestra had to be drastically reduced. This recording reinstates Stokowski’s original orchestration.

Stokowski’s catalogue lists orchestral parts for all his Bach transcriptions except one, Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir. The absence of orchestral parts may explain why Stokowski never performed this arrangement, so the Leopold Stokowski society had the parts printed and on 6 June 2003 Matthias Bamert conducted its world premiere. My Soul is Athirst comes from the St Matthew Passion. The chorale theme, which recurs throughout that work, is given a tender treatment by the Maestro whose 1936 recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra remained, until now, the only one ever made. The reflective chorale prelude Aus der Tiefe rufe ich is another rarity in Stokowski’s catalogue, recorded only once previously by the maestro himself in 1930. The selection concludes with a Fugue in C, from Bach’s The Well Tempered Klavier, which, in Stokowski’s hands, is given almost Götterdamerung-like proportions!

I have played this CD again and again, with initial amazement soon giving way to deep satisfaction. I urge you to acquire a copy as soon as possible and revel in these glorious sounds.
Fanfare on CHAN 9930 (Stokowski’s Symphonic Baroque)

Bamerts warmly sympathetic readings obviously follow his mentors way with this music…
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs on CHAN 9259 (Stokowski’s Symphonic Bach)

Throughout these re-creations, Matthias Bamert knows just how to achieve the kind of spontaneous flexible rubato that was Stokowski’s personal style. With superb playing from the BBC Philharmonic, and marvellous rich and spacious Chandos recording, the result is truly spectacular. I can’t wait to hear the SACD!

This is Volume 2 of Bach in Chandos’ series of Stokowski transcriptions (re-)orchestrations, and symphonic syntheses with these forces. We seem to have missed reviewing Volume 1m which is a pity because Bamert has the Stokowski style down pat, the BBC Philharmonic plays beautifully, and the engineers have rustled up superb sound, with just the right balance of cosmic spaciousness and detail.
American Record Guide

You marvel at Stokowski’s skills (never mind ‘authenticism’ and yesterday’s snobbish rejection – these are pieces with a separate identity) but also at the wonderful finish and expressice commitment of the BBC Philharmonic’s playing… Matthias Bamert must be the most unsung conductor working in this country today.
Hi-Fi News

This is a sure bet for Stokowski’s fans and aficionados of fine orchestral playing, but purists should steer clear.
International Record Review

More important he {Bamert] never condescends to the music: He’s not even embarrassed by the cinematic ardour of the Andante sostenuto, played with just the right ‘tear-jerkissimo. He’s alert, too, to the ever changing character of the orchestrations: in the Chaconne, for example, – a fairly inward transcription that plays down the rugged grandeur that Busoni stressed in his piano version – he navigates the eddies and currents with remarkable sensitivity… this sort of music has just the sort of ripeness that Chandos’s engineers capture so well… even in plain stereo, this is a sumptuous wallow.
Fanfare (USA)

Extraordinary how Bach’s infuence on later composers can suddenly snap into focus in Stokowski’s ingenious orchestrations – Brahms, Medelssohn and Mahler are among the allusions. Excellent sound.
BBC Music Magazine

… brings out the tonal light and shade, as well as the wide dynamic range of the Stokowski arrangement, something which was only half-appreciable even in Stokowskis last recording… This ripely satisfying issue, opulently recorded by Chandos, superbly played by the BBC Philharmonic and conducted by an erstwhile assistant to Stokowski, Matthias Bamert, fills an important gap
Gramophone on CHAN 9259 (Stokowski’s Symphonic Bach)

Stokowski tries to turn Bach into a late Romantic composer or a crafter of Hollywood soundtracks, pumping-up the decibels, applying the rubato the way whores apply lipstick, transforming pieces for solo violin into avalanches of orchestral effects. The BBC Philharmonic is brilliantly effective here under Matthias Bamert.
The Times


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