Lucy van Dael elevates the art of baroque violin to new heights. Her precise intonation, eloquent phrasing and judicious use of vibrato throughout adds new insight to these works.
The star of the young Hungarian violinist Kristóf Baráti is quickly rising. Having won several important international competitions (the most recent first prize at the prestigious Paganini Competition in Moscow) he plays with important orchestras and conductors, like Charles Dutoit, Kurt Masur, Iván Fischer, Yuri Temirkanov and Marek Janowski. His recent recording of Beethoven’s complete violin sonatas with Klára Würtz received rave reviews: “5 stars…a great duo, comparable with Perlman/Ashkenazy, Grumiaux/Haskil, Ferras/Barbizet’ (Diapason), “A talent that comes along once in a decade, perhaps once in a generation, I don’t say it lightly, but once you’ve heard Baráti and Würtz you’ll never listen to anyone else again” (Fanfare). This recording of the great solo Bach was issued on Berlin Classics in 2009, and shows the sovereign command over the matter, and a deep understanding of the spirit of these masterworks.
La Petite Bande has recorded a spectacular rendition of Bach’s four orchestral suites, certainly some of the most spectacular instrumental music of the Baroque repertoire. La Petite Bande director, Sigiswald Kuijken, has written a very informative essay explaining the history of these pieces. Unfortunately, more is unknown than known. Kuijken speculates that the works were conceived for string orchestra and the wind parts were added at a later date. He also notes that sections of the 4th Suite were reused in the opening chorus of the Christmas Cantata, BWV 110. Kuijken also remarks that he has rethought his approach to these works opting for small musical forces as opposed to the rather large ensemble that La Petite Bande employed in its performances and recording of about 30 years ago.
"The present recording was made in 1984 and 198S, using a Dutch baroque violin and a baroque bow. The location was the village church of Oltingen in the canton of Basel in Switzerland, a space that seemed particularly favourable to the sound and atmosphere of Bach's music."
These two CD offer music lovers a golden opportunity to hear one of the truly great sets of Brandenburg Concertos. Listeners familiar with the fast, super-bright sound of certain famous British and German authentic instrument groups such as The English Concert or Musica Antiqua Köln, will find much to savor in these warmly dark-toned versions. Gamba player turned conductor Jordi Savall treats each work with positively epicurean relish. It goes without saying that he plays the two strings-only works (Nos. 3 and 6, and especially this last, which is scored entirely for "low" instruments) with an ideal balance of contrapuntal clarity and forward momentum, but there really isn't a dud in the lot. The prevailingly rich bass textures only serve to emphasize the brilliance of No. 2's solo trumpet, No. 4's recorders, or the solo harpsichord in No. 5. The deliciously fruity wind sonorities in No. 1 will also prove a source of delight. If you love these works, you should add this recording to your collection. Magnificent sound too.
David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com