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When Johann Sebastian Bach died on 28 July 1750 in Leipzig, a great change in style in the music world was already underway. But even in the 19th century, not all of Bach's piano works were familiar, and Bach was seen more as a great teacher and less of an artist who was able to convey emotion through music. Therefore, transcriptions and arrangements had a prominent place in the concerts of composer-piano virtuosos. In this way, it was possible to programme well-known works or to occasionally present the public with rarities and also the pieces of other composers like Bach's contemporary George Frideric Handel. The virtuosos also referred to Bach himself, who arranged instrumental concertos for keyboard instruments for study purposes, but also repeatedly reused his own works, putting them into a different form. The question is how closely the arrangers of Bach's music – or Handel's – kept to the original. There are very faithful transcriptions as well as free adaptations, some even bordering on being new compositions. Some examples of the various types of Bach and Handel adaptations by composer-piano virtuosos – arrangements which range from compositions with large instrumentation and organ works to pieces for a single string or keyboard instrument – are found on this recording; with the greatest finesse up in the finest details performed by Roberto Cominati.
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Chandos Records is one of the world's premier classical music record companies, best known for its ground breaking search for neglected musical gems. The company has pioneered the idea of the 'series' and proudly includes series of such composers as Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Parry, Walton, Grainger, Berkeley and Bridge. Renowned for its superb sound quality, Chandos has won many prestigious awards for its natural sound.