Five essential works by JS Bach

We choose the best works by the king of counterpoint

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Mass in B minor

Written as a job application, Bach’s sublime Mass, written over two decades, is a rich feast of superb orchestration and dizzying vocal textures.

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Recommended recording:
Véronique Gens, Andreas Scholl, Christoph Prégardien, La Chapelle Royale & Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe
Harmonia Mundi HML5901614/15

Fantasia and Fugue in G minor

Everything in this magical piece seems to fit just so – from the stormy, dramatic Fantasia to the contrapuntal wizardry of the fugue.

Recommended recording:
Peter Hurford (organ)
Decca 443 4852

St Matthew Passion

Bach’s greatest work, so it’s widely believed. The story of Christ’s Passion is told compellingly through expressive recitative and rousing choruses.

Recommended recording:
Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Brook, Susan Hamilton, Cecilia Osmond et al, Dunedin Consort and Players, John Butt
Linn CKD313

The 48

Made up of two books of 24 preludes, Bach’s masterpiece explores all the keys
of the musical scale with endless invention and beauty.

Recommended recording:
Angela Hewitt
Hyperion CDA67741/4

Cello suites

The six suites were the first virtuosic pieces written for the cello and are works of both complexity and simple elegance.

Recommended recording:
Steven Isserlis (cello) Hyperion CDA67541/2

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