The subtitle of this compilation--"27 Tranquil Tracks from the Master of Baroque"--might suggest you're in for a dose of watered-down, Muzaked treatments, but not to worry: this is actually a very attractive theme album that makes an enticing introduction if you're just setting out to discover the wonder ofJ.S. Bach
. Some of the most familiar music Bach wrote does indeed reside in the slow movements of his concertos, suites, and sonatas. Often, they reveal an Italianate love for spinning gorgeous melodies that sound eternally fresh and haunting in a number of contexts (witness the opening "Air on a G String" and its reworking in Procol Harum's hit,"A Whiter Shade of Pale"
). Opera was the only genre of his time in which Bach didn't write, but many of his slower movements display the intense emotional focus of operatic arias, and Bach's range of expression can cover an infinite degree of moods--from "tranquility" to the deeply mournful adagio of Brandenburg Concerto No. 6. From its archives, the Erato label has culled interpretations by some of today's leading Bach interpreters, such as Ton Koopman and his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Jordi Savall, and Gustav Leonhardt.
The concept of "adagio" has been extended here to include chorales and slower passages from the great choral works, whereas some compilations offer only instrumental arrangements, thus overlooking this aspect so central to Bach's output. From the nearly two hours of music in this collection, you'll gain a pretty...