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The Critical Discographies from Choral Music On Records Pages at the Teri Noel Towe Home Pages


Johann Sebastian Bach


The Critical Discographies from Choral Music On Records


This remarkable photograph is not a computer generated composite; the original of the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment, all that remains of the portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach that belonged to his pupil Johann Christian Kittel, is resting gently on the surface of the original of the 1748 Elias Gottlob Haussmann Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach.

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1748 Elias Gottlob Haussmann Portrait, Courtesy of William H. Scheide, Princeton, New Jersey
Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment, ca. 1733, Artist Unknown, Courtesy of the Weydenhammer Descendants
Photograph by Teri Noel Towe
©Teri Noel Towe, 2001, All Rights Reserved


The Critical Discographies from Choral Music On Records


In recent weeks, I have been honored by several requests that I arrange to post at my homepages the four critical discographies that I contributed to the anthology, Choral Music on Records, which was organized and edited by the distinguished British critic and writer on music, Alan Blyth, in 1989, and published by the Cambridge University Press in 1991.

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One of the four essays, a critical discography of George Frideric Handel's Messiah, is a heavily revised version of an article that appeared in Opus in 1985, and it is one of the group of articles that I wrote during the Bach-Handel-Scarlatti Tercentenary that won me my first ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in 1986. The remaining three discographies, in which I discuss and evaluate the recordings of the Mass in B Minor, BWV 232, and the the two surviving Passion settings by Johann Sebastian Bach, won me my second ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in 1992.

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These recent requests have not been the first I have received over the years, and, in part because the anthology is still technically in print, if difficult to find, and in part because I have been simply too lacksadaisical to undertake to confirm with the Cambridge University Press my vague recollection that my agreement with the Cambridge University Press permitted me to republish the discographies in an anthology of my own writings with proper credit to the source, I simply have ignored the requests. I must also confess that I also felt uncomfortable about posting discographies that are a dozen years out of date, when I knew that I had little interest in investing the many, many hours that would be needed to audition, analyse, and evaluate the many recordings of these masterpieces that have been published since I closed the books on these discographies in the late fall of 1989.

While I freely admit that, to some extent, I have been goaded into clearing the rights to post these articles as a response to the outrageous, at times defamatory, and often ad hominem attacks that have been made on me by various Performance Practice Puritans and HIP-ocrites who shrilly contend that I am nothing but a pretentious old windbag and a loud-mouthed "know nothing", the real inspiration for me was a recent plea from the remarkable, unsurpassable, and devoted Aryeh Oron, who created and maintains the Bach Cantatas Website, an internet resource sans pareil for any and all who share his love -- and mine -- for the sacred works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

After Aryeh learned of the existence of these discographies, he did not let go until I, both honored and humbled by his persistence, agreed to take up the matter of the posting of the discographies on the internet with the powers that be at the Cambridge University Press. I am truly am glad that Aryeh was so insistent, because a particularly pleasant by-product has been the re-establishment of contact with the extraordinary Penelope Souster, the Music Editor at the Cambridge University Press with whom I worked as closely on the project as I did with the equally extraordinary Alan Blyth. I want to express particular thanks to Penny for clearing up the matter of my right to post the discographies so quickly. Penny also will know what I mean when I remind her that her lobster still awaits! {:-{)}

I offer a word of warning about the discographies as they appear here at my Johann Sebastian Bach Pages. The texts are not identical to the final versions that are to be found in Choral Music on Records. Instead, for convenieince and other purely personal reasons, I have posted the final drafts that I sent to Alan and to Penny for them to edit and refine for publication in the book.

Nonetheless, please remember that the copyrights in these articles belong to the Cambridge University Press, and, should you choose to honor me and my work product by quoting from them, please be sure to state that the source is Choral Music on Records, that the final versions of the discographies are to be found in Choral Music on Records, and that the essays appear at this website by courtesy of the Cambridge University Press.

Mass in B Minor, BWV 232

Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244

Saint John Passion, BWV 245

Teri Noel Towe, December 8, 2001

 

P. S.: Please don't forget that, if you are interested in thorough, accurate discographies of the recordings of any of these masterworks that have appeared since the preparation of these articles, you should go at once to Aryeh Oron's remarkable Bach Cantatas Website.

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teritowe@alumni.Princeton.EDU


Copyright, Teri Noel Towe, 2001
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