Brilliant Classics, a budget classical music label who sells very, very inexpensive CDs, is releasing a 155-CD set of Bach’s complete works. It is currently available from Amazon FR, and may or may not be released in other countries.
Last year, Brilliant Classics released their complete Mozart set, which has sold somewhere around 175,000 copies–a stunning amount of sales for a huge box set of classical music. While I don’t care for Mozart, and I’m sure most purchasers of this set didn’t even listen to all of it, it represents a new trend in classical music: labels such as Brilliant Classics don’t produce much music themselves; they license out-of-print music from other labels and repackage it. In some cases, this music is excellent; in others, it is mediocre. When the first edition of the complete Bach set was released, I reviewed it for MusicWeb. I found there to be many interesting recordings, some that were acceptable, and a handful that didn’t cut muster. However, at this price, if only to be exposed to the diversity of Bach’s music, you really can’t go wrong. (Note that this new release is essentially the same as the first edition, with a handful of performances replaced by others.)
Bach is one of my favorite composers, so I can only recommend this set to anyone who wants to dip into the many forms of music that Bach composed, discover his church cantatas (some of his best music is there), his organ music, the wide range of his solo keyboard music and much more. For 90 Euros, you won’t get the best performances of Bach’s works, but many of them are excellent, and you’ll get to hear everything (or everything that is known; much of Bach’s music was lost in the ravages of time).