Released worldwide 26th October 2018
Largest composer project in recording history: 222CDs • 32 Labels • 750+ Performers • 280 Hours of Music • 10 Hours of New Recordings • 7 World Premiere Recordings
Deutsche Grammophon and Decca present ‘Bach 333’ – the biggest ever box set for a single composer. The 222 CD collection, which features 280 hours of music and weighs a whopping 13.5 kilos (about twice as heavy as a bowling ball) marks the 333rd anniversary of J.S. Bach and celebrates his fascination with the number 3. It is a tribute to one of the most influential composers of all time – whose music has inspired artists for centuries, from Mozart and Mendelssohn to Procol Harum and The Beatles.
J.S. Bach – The New Complete Edition is the result of two years of curation and scholarship and has been developed with the co-operation of 32 record labels and a team of scholars at the Leipzig Bach Archive, with an introduction by its President, Sir John Eliot Gardiner – his BBC documentary ‘Bach: A Passionate Life’ appears on DVD for the first time as part of the set.
Never before have so many artists and record labels come together in one collection. There are 750 hand-picked performers and ensembles including acclaimed Bach interpreters Sir John Eliot Gardiner, András Schiff and Hilary Hahn.
Highlights among 10 hours of entirely new recordings are 7 premieres: 6 alternative Chorale versions and Beethoven’s only completed arrangement of a Bach work, all recorded for the very first time. There is also a new recording of the Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin by period specialist Giuliano Carmignola.
There are 2 new hardback books in the collection featuring Dorothea Schröder’s acclaimed biography of Bach, 14 brand new essays by leading scholars including Christoph Wolff, and a work-by-work musical commentary by Sir Nicholas Kenyon.
90 years of evolving Bach performance traditions in vocal and instrumental practice can be heard in legendary performances from a plethora of artists from Alfred Deller to Claudio Abbado, Willem Mengelberg to Karl Richter, Edwin Fischer to Glenn Gould, Pablo Casals to Pierre Fournier, Arthur Grumiaux to Anne-Sophie Mutter. There are also more than 20 historical organs featured in the set!
There are historically-informed performances from Masaaki Suzuki, Ton Koopman, Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Christopher Hogwood, Reinhard Goebel, Paul McCreesh, Franz Brüggen, Trevor Pinnock, Christophe Rousset and Rinaldo Alessandrini, plus there are over 50 CDs of alternative recordings including modern piano performances from Murray Perahia, Angela Hewitt, Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel and many more.
Bach’s influence has stretched across generations. This is reflected in 16 CDs entitled ‘Bach Interactive’ and ‘Bach after Bach’ which aim to show the composer’s impact; from Mozart and Beethoven to today’s masters such as Arvo Pärt and György Kurtág. There are albums devoted to ‘Bach à la Jazz’ (Stéphane Grappelli, Stan Getz, Jacques Loussier, Bill Evans and more) and ‘New Colours of Bach’, with today’s leading remixers and composers reimagining Bach’s works.
All these new recordings and compilations will be released digitally to coincide with the box set. Additional digital tools (videos, playlists and more) are available online via the brand new website www.bach333.com. There is also a section on the site entitled ‘Why 333?’. At the core of Bach’s Lutheran faith was the Holy Trinity and the symbolism of 3 features heavily in his collection of organ works Clavier-Übung III (1739).
“Bach is regularly singled by composers across all traditions from jazz, pop, world and classical for his unique importance,” says Paul Moseley, Universal Music Group’s Director of ‘Bach 333’. “We have set out to do him, his life, his world, full justice, taking in current and past performance practice, fresh scholarship and the latest media, to produce something that will educate, entertain and deepen our relationship with probably the most influential composer of all time.”
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, President of the Leipzig Bach Archive, adds: “This superb array of recordings is to be welcomed and valued on different levels simultaneously. First, it displays the colossal range and sheer variety of Bach’s output; then the challenges of performing it and how these have evolved – exemplified by the multiplicity of recorded interpretations assembled here for the first time. Listening to any of these CDs will surely induce in you a heightened sense of consciousness – of the role of music which Bach enriched and extended so brilliantly. For him music was pure necessity.”
And so, 333 years after J.S. Bach’s birth, it is fitting that the biggest composer box set ever created should honour the man whose prolific output has left his mark on musicians across the years and continues to inspire, astound and soothe music-lovers today.