Five essential works by JS Bach
We choose the best works by the king of counterpoint, Bach
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.
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.
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.
Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Brook, Susan Hamilton, Cecilia Osmond et al, Dunedin Consort and Players, John Butt
Made up of two books of 24 preludes, Bach’s masterpiece explores all the keys
of the musical scale with endless invention and beauty.
The six suites were the first virtuosic pieces written for the cello and are works of both complexity and simple elegance.
Steven Isserlis (cello) Hyperion CDA67541/2
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.