One does not enjoy The Well-Tempered Clavier, one is uplifted by it. Joy, pain, tears, sorrow, laughter: they all flow from it, but in such a form that the notes transport us out of the world of strife into the world of peace, and we see reality as if we were sitting beside a mountain lake, contemplating the mountains and forest and clouds reflected in still, fathomless water. More than any other work, The Well-Tempered Clavier allows us to understand that Bach experienced his art as a religion. Pieces performed by the renowned pianist Andrei Gavrilov, Joanna McGregor, Nikolai Damidenko and Angela Hewitt.
The Six Concerts avec plusieurs instruments (Six Concertos with Several Instruments) that are now known as the Brandenburg Concertos after their dedicatee, the Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg, were written between 1717 and 1721 and, like much of Bach's orchestral music, date from his years as Kapellmeister to the Prince of Anhalt-Cöthen (1717-23). For the present recording, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra follows in the historical footsteps of Bach's own orchestra by performing these works in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Cöthen. In terms of their musical form and the resources for which they are scored, these six works could hardly be more different. Only Nos. 3 and 6 are traditional string concertos in which various groups of instruments perform together as equals. In Nos. 1 and 2 bach contrasts the strings with a group of solo instruments, taking his cue from the works of his Italian colleague, Ancangelo Corelli (1653-1713), who was famous throughout Europe for his concerti grossi. In Nos. 4 and 5, finally, single instruments - a violin and a harpsichord - are privileged in such a way that these works could almost be described as solo concertos. In this respect, the Fifth Concerto occupies a special position, the extended cadenza in its opening movement allowing us to regard it as the first harpsichord concerto in the history of music. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach described his father as "the greatest organist and keyboard player that we ever have known", and there is little doubt that Bach - an eminent keyboard virtuoso - wrote this work as a display piece designed to demonstrate his own keyboard skills.