Fans of classical music may have a go-to composer, time period, or genre, and with so much falling under the “classical music” umbrella it’s a great feeling to find a particular piece or style that resonates with you. If you’re into any of the big-name classical composers of the past (Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven, etc), you may be wondering what these works sounded like when they first made their debut, using musical instruments from the period. (Or maybe you didn’t, and that’s fine, too.)
If you happen to enjoy the musical stylings of Johann Sebastian Bach, you’re in for a treat: an ensemble in California has recorded some of his pieces using original baroque instruments. Here’s how to listen.
How to listen to Bach on baroque instruments
This version of musical time travel is brought to us by San Francisco’s Voices of Music, an ensemble dedicated to “renaissance and baroque music, drawing upon the many and varied sources for historical performance practice.” You may have already heard their version of Pachelbel’s Canon (and if, for some reason, you’re sad about missing wedding season this year, crank this one up and the memories of dry chicken and hiding in the bathroom when they play “Single Ladies” during the bouquet toss will come flooding back). They also have a lovely rendition of the “Winter” suite from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
To help brighten and provide a soundtrack to our lives in lockdown, Voices of Music are back with a YouTube playlist featuring 10 of Bach’s songs played on baroque instruments. For just a few clicks on the playlist above, you’ll get hits like the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B Flat Major:
And the Arioso from Cantata 156 (Sinfonia):
Not to mention the Flute Sonata in E Minor:
If you act now (or anytime, really), you can access the Voices of Music’s entire YouTube channel full of their recordings — absolutely free, no shipping and handling.
Actually, speaking of money, this series is also functioning as a fundraiser for the ensemble who continues to produce one new video a week while paying the musicians and staff who make it happen. If that’s something you’re interested in, you can donate on their website, or via the box in the top right corner of the videos.