If music has a holy trinity the three names would probably be Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, but if that already shortest of short lists is reduced to just one, the answer, in the words of Dylan Thomas’s Organ Morgan, is ‘Bach is best’. Throughout Bach’s long life, his achievement was staggering and is astounding in its size and ambition, and it is replete with masterpieces – works that stand like the peaks of a huge mountain range. Here are a selection of works by Bach that are essential listening; and once bitten the Bach Bug will take you on a journey of almost limitless reward.

1. Orchestral Suites – Boston Baroque / Martin Pearlman (Telarc) CD from Amazon

2. Brandenburg Concertos – European Brandenburg Ensemble / Trevor Pinnock (Avie) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

3. Violin Concertos (period instruments) – Ryo Terakado; Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki (BIS) Download from Amazon

4. Violin Concertos (modern instruments) – Daniel Hope; COE (DG) CD from Amazon / Download from Amazon

5. Goldberg Variations (piano) – Murray Perahia (Sony Classical) – piano CD from Amazon

6. Goldberg Variations (harpsichord) – Andreas Staier (Harmonia Mundi) – harpsichord CD from AmazonDownload from Amazon

7. Partitas (harpsichord) – Trevor Pinnock (Hänssler Classic) – harpsichord CD from Amazon

8. Partitas (piano) – Murray Perahia (Sony Classical) CD from Amazon

9. Cello Suites – Steven Isserlis (Hyperion) CD from Amazon

10. Well-tempered Clavier (48 Preludes and Fugues, or The 48) – Angela Hewitt (Hyperion) CD from Amazon

11. Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas – Rachel Podger (Channel Classics) CD from Amazon

12. Mass in B minor – Soloists; Dunedin Consort and Players / John Butt (Linn) CD from Amazon

13. St Matthew Passion – Soloists; Arnold Schoenberg Choir; Concentus Musicus Wien / Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Warner Classics) CD from Amazon 

What recordings would appear in your Top 10?

 

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