An expert in the field of Baroque violin, Rachel Podger is back from the studio with another Bach album. This time, accompanied by the Brecon Baroque ensemble, she's focusing on some of Bach's double and triple concertos - BWV 1043 for Two Violins, BWV 1044 for Harpsichord, Flute and Violin, BWV for Violin and Oboe, and the Concerto for Three Violins, BWV 1064.
In the Bach Double Concerto, Sitkovetsky is joined by his uncle Dmitry, and it's fascinating to hear how well matched they are - Alexander (playing the prime part, I assume) having a more refined and slightly brighter sound. Theirs is a stylish performance, too, featuring long lines, flowing tempi and nimble orchestral playing. In fact, despite the awkward name, the New European Strings Chamber Orchestra are a tight-knit band with a handsomely warm sound. Recorded in the Henry Wood Hall, London, in 2002, when Alexander was not yet 20, this disc offers further evidence of a career that could (and should) be spectacular. -- [8/2004]
Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr here assemble all the viola da gamba sonatas written by three composers born in the propitious year of 1685: one each by Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and three by JS Bach. Isserlis plays them on the gamba’s modern cousin, the cello, and the microphone loves his playing, picking up all the nuances and scampering asides from his soft-spoken instrument which can sometimes get lost in big concert halls. Egarr on harpsichord matches Isserlis’s eloquence and rambunctious energy all the way. The dreamy, airy slow movement of Bach’s Sonata in G minor brings telling use of vibrato as Isserlis circles around Egarr, his playing at once idiomatic and soulful. An extra cellist reinforces the bass line in the Handel and Scarlatti, in which the composers give the harpsichordist only a framework; Egarr’s imaginative realisations ensure that even when Scarlatti is at his most repetitive, he is never dull.
In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent…. By Santa Fe Listener
Three double concertos for harpsichord by Bach survive, all dating from around 1736, and all arrangements of earlier compositions. BWV 1060 is thought to have originated as a now lost double concerto for oboe and violin, while BWV 1062 is a reworking of the well-loved concerto for two violins. Unlike these two works, BWV 1061 was composed for two harpsichords from the outset, but probably started out as a concerto without orchestral accompaniment – this will have been added later. Performing these works, with a quintet of string players from the Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki is joined by his son Masato. For the present disc Masato Suzuki has also taken a page from Bach’s own book, in arranging the composer’s Orchestral Suite No.1 for two unaccompanied harpsichords.
This reissue of 1982 recordings of C.P.E. Bach's concerto for harpsichord and piano Wq. 47 (Helm 479) and sonatina Wq. 109 (H. 453), and an undated recording of the concerto for 2 harpsichords Wq. 46 (H. 408), would be a worthwhile disc even without the bargain-basement price. The Wq. 47 concerto is uniquely important in C.P.E.'s output–it is the last concerto the composer wrote–but this disc seems to be the only readily available recording at this writing! Happily, the performance is splendid, as is that of the sonatina…By A Customer
"…Musica Antiqua convey equal vitality and character to the two most striking rarities here. JCF Bach’s double concerto for fortepiano and viola appears as a prototype symphony with important solo interjections. Melodically unexceptional, it is nevertheless stylish in a jejune way. CPE Bach – the most iconoclastic of the sons – successfully combines the prevailing keyboard instruments of the day, harpsichord and fortepiano. Fingers fly with aplomb – and no little mischief – as one is left to ponder the impact of this last Bach generation on Mozart and Beethoven, with whom there were (and are) of course many significant connections. Goebel provides a historical wake-up call." ~Gramophone
Youngest son of J.S. Bach, Johann Christian Bach rose to prominence in England during the early Classical period much the same as his father dominated the German Baroque. His writing was influenced by his father, of course, but also by the fashions being explored by Haydn. J.C. Bach also served as a bridge to Mozart, whose work and early writings were also influenced by the junior Bach. A total of 15, three-movement symphonies were published under Opp. 6, 9, and 18. These works are filled with fresh, energetic optimism, the only exception being the stormy, tumultuous Symphony Op. 6/6 in G minor, the only one of the 15 to be written in the minor mode. Bach's choice of instruments varied, from symphonies using only strings to the addition of winds and ultimately to the grand "double orchestra" employed in Op. 18. This Newton disc is a two-disc reissue of David Zinman's early 1970s recordings of the complete symphonies with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra.