For the rest, it’s marvelous to hear Hotter as Sachs in the congenial harmonies of a Bayreuth Die Meistersinger from 1956, under Cluytens, with Fischer-Dieskau and Windgassen also in the cast (CD 6). And how surprising to hear him as the Speaker in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote, from Cologne in 1954, with a mellifluous Rudolf Schock as Tamino (CD 7). Extracts from a very early Falstaff, sung in German in 1939, distinguish CD 8.
Bach Around the World
Yehudi Menuhin, Bobby McFerrin, John Eliot Gardiner
This month’s stumbled-upon treasure is titled Bach Around the World. It’s a compilation of items from Oxford to Tokyo featuring the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s absolutely delightful, and has a rather strange history.
Apparently it was sold by EuroArts Entertainment, the original makers in 2000, to Public Television for transmission in the US. It seems, however, to have had a second life in the East as a DVD where it can be found in many an unexpected corner with cover details in Chinese, Korean or Japanese.
We’ve identified a version available on Amazon’s Japanese pages — look for the catalog numbers ANRM-22080 and/or JAN 4560292371494. But it might be easier simply to keep your eyes open at your neighborhood night-market.
Either way, it’s both as good an introduction to Bach’s incomparable music as you could find anywhere, and a very high-quality eclectic recital in its own right.
There’s organist Ton Koopman playing the famous Toccata and Fuge, cellist Anner Bylsma playing the Sarabande from the First Cello Suite, Andrei Gavrilov playing the opening Prelude from Book 1 of the Well-tempered Clavier, Bobby McFerrin singing before a large open-air audience in Leipzig, Yehudi Menuhin playing the Prelude from the Partita in E Major in 1943, the Keller String Quartet playing a transposition from The Art of Fuge, John Eliot Gardiner talking about Bach’s church music, plus the opening chorus from the St John Passion from Tokyo and the Sanctus from the B Minor Mass from Leipzig. It’s an extraordinary collection — 17 items in all. What a find!