Bach: Works orchestrated by Respighi, Bantock, Honegger, Reger, Elgar, Vaughan Williams/Foster, Raff, Holst & Schoenberg

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Works orchestrated by Respighi, Bantock, Honegger, Reger, Elgar, Vaughan Williams/Foster, Raff, Holst & Schoenberg
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Leonard Slatkin
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9835
Among numerous recorded collections of Bach orchestral transcriptions – including the BBC Philharmonic’s well-received ‘Stokowski’s Symphonic Bach’ released in 1993, conducted on that occasion by Matthias Bamert – none with which I am acquainted boasts such wide range and high quality of arrangements as this one. From the lowering vistas Elgar perceives in the C minor Fantasia and Fugue to the aggressively merry Fugue à la gigue seen through the eyes of Gustav Holst, this collection offers one delightful surprise after another. A pair of rarities, which Chandos designates as premiere recordings, are Joachim Raff’s version of the D minor Chaconne (Raff forgoes monumentality in favour of a pensive, transparently scored, Mendelssohnian approach) and the organ Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 545, as realised by Arthur Honegger (complete with saxophones, which lend pungent clarity to the texture). Another highlight is Ottorino Respighibrilliantly sonorous Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, much grander and fuller than Stokowski’s sleek version. The programme includes further contributions from Bantock, Reger, Vaughan Williams/Foster, and Schoenberg (the St Anne Prelude and Fugue). Slatkin and the orchestra are conscientious, flexible champions for these many visions of Bach, and the sound possesses both spaciousness and impact. Highly recommended. David Breckbill

Advertisement