BACH, J.S.: Partita No. 3 in A minor, BWV 827 (Richter)

BACH, J.S.: Partita No. 3 in A minor, BWV 827 (Richter)


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- (Disc 1)

Partita No. 3 in A minor, BWV 827

Venue: Benedictine Abbey, Ottobeuren
Playing Time: 00:19:15
Television Director: Arnbom, Arne
Catalogue Number: A05500451

For Johann Sebastian Bach, February 15, 1981 was no doubt one of the darkest days of his afterlife: on this day he lost one of his greatest champions in the 20th century, Karl Richter. Over the course of his long career as conductor, organist and harpsichordist, Richter had become synonymous with Bach. He founded the Munich Bach Choir and the Munich Bach Orchestra. He helped trigger the Bach revival in the 1950s. He was the spirit behind the Ansbach Bach Festival. He turned his adopted city of Munich into a Bach center. And he recorded all the major choral and orchestral works of Bach, including more than 100 cantatas.

Richter was born on October 15, 1926 in Plauen, Thuringia, the Bach family's native region. After his years as a choirboy at Dresden's Kreuzkirche ("I sang in virtually all the cantatas and passions"), he
studied in Leipzig with the St. Thomas cantors Günther Ramin and Karl Straube and was appointed organist at the Thomaskirche in 1949. He moved to Munich in 1951 and founded his choral and orchestral ensembles shortly thereafter.

Karl Richter absorbed the Bach tradition from the source, in the cities where the composer had lived and worked. Although he saw several dramatic shifts in Baroque performance practice during his lifetime, he remained true to his own style, which was considered revolutionary in the 1950s and 60s. This was a "de-romanticized" Bach which featured a reduced body of performers more in keeping with the composer's original forces. Richter's style also accented a cool, brisk, almost abstract attitude toward the music, which eschewed exaggerated dynamics and rubato.

In later years, Richter's approach was itself ironically labeled "romantic" and old-fashioned by a new generation of Bach scholars, who applied even stricter criteria to what they considered "authentic" Baroque performance practice. One of the major causes of dissent was the use of genuine or reconstructed period instruments. Richter commented on this in 1976: "Who says that Bach wouldn't have used modern instruments if he had had them? It might be informative and revealing to play Bach on historical instruments, but for me, it's only a modish phenomenon that will fade away."

Part 1

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