Recordings of classical music from the 78-rpm era (mostly)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The First Recording of a Bach Orchestral Suite, via the Library of Congress
I have only within the last 24 hours discovered the joys of the Library of Congress' "National Jukebox." Despite the rather appalling name, the "National Jukebox" is a treasure trove of early recordings, which can be streamed, but not downloaded - though the playlist feature enables one to hear the streamed recordings in any order one wishes. At present some 10,000 sides are available, most if not all of them Victor recordings from the acoustic era. I have taken advantage of the playlist feature to create a playlist containing what seems to me, as a devout Bachoholic, to be one of the most important recordings on the website - that of the Bach Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, BWV 1068, recorded in 1917 by the Victor Concert Orchestra under Josef Pasternack (though, apparently, Rosario Bourdon actually conducted the last of the four sides). This is the first recording of a Bach orchestral work with pretentions to completeness, or at least the first Bach orchestral work recorded by an orchestra (since the famous 1915 Kreisler-Zimbalist recording of the Double Concerto, also accessible through the website, was accompanied by a string quartet). The Overture is cut to fit one side - twelve bars are cut from the end of the fast section and the final slow section isn't played - but the remainder of the work is complete, even to the repeats. A fascinating glimpse into how Bach was played a hundred years ago - when Bach was played at all! This was very unusual repertoire for the time.