"A set which, like the Bible and Shakespeare, ought rightly to accompany any thnking person to a desert island."
Teldec’s COMPLETE BACH Edition, 153 CDs in 12 volumes comprising Bach’s complete works performed by world renowned Bach interpreters on period instruments, constitutes one of the most ambitious projects in recording history.
The artists taking part in COMPLETE BACH include:
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt, Concentus musicus Wien, Ton Koopman, Il Giardino Armonico, Andreas Staier, Michele Barchi, Luca Pianca, Werner Ehrhardt, Bob van Asperen, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Tragicomedia, Thomas Zehetmair, Glen Wilson, Christoph Prégardien, Klaus Mertens, Barbara Bonney, Thomas Hampson, Herbert Tachezi, Frans Brüggen and many others ...
COMPLETE BACH represents the culmination of a process that began over five decades ago, in 1958, with the creation of the DAS ALTE WERK label. After initially triggering an impassioned controversy, Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s belief that “Early music is a foreign language which must be learned by musicians and listeners alike” has found widespread acceptance. He and his colleagues searched for original instruments to throw new light on composers and their works and significantly influenced the history of music interpretation in the second half of this century. Their ideas have been shared by many fellow musicians, among them Ton Koopman, Il Giardino Armonico, Luca Pianca and Andreas Staier, all of whose performances appear in the COMPLETE BACH Edition. As an entirety, COMPLETE BACH offers listeners the chance to rediscover the astonishing developments in Bach interpretation of the last forty years and the tonal beauties of Bach’s works performed on period instruments.
Without Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s and Gustav Leonhardt’s groundbreaking accounts of the cantatas, a complete Bach edition would have been inconceivable. But with the recording of Bach's Complete Sacred Cantatas as inspiration, not to mention Harnoncourt’s 1970 St. Matthew Passion and Gustav Leonhardt’s legendary 1965 account of the Goldberg Variations, the early 1990's found Teldec in an extraordinary position: able to embark on the artistic, financial and logistical adventure to record and license recordings of the remainder of Bach’s oeuvre and present a complete edition in time for the 250th anniversary of his death.
From Schleicht, spielende Wellen, BWV 206, recorded by the Monteverdi Choir Hamburg, Amsterdam Chamber Orchestra, Jürgen Jürgens and André Rieu in 1963 to the Trio in A major, BWV 1025 with Werner Ehrhardt and Gerald Hambitzer recorded in April 1999, COMPLETE BACH chronicles nearly four decades of Bach performance on period instruments. By 1995, the year in which the project COMPLETE BACH was conceived, Teldec had already committed approximately two thirds of Bach's oeuvre to disc. Subsequently the company produced approximately twenty new recordings specifically for the COMPLETE BACH Complete Edition. Many of these new recordings were of works never before available on disc, including chorales, as well as works for organ and works for harpsichord.