Bach: Double & Triple Concertos - Podger
Channel Classics CCS SA 34113
Classical - Orchestral
Bach: Triple Concerto, BWV 1044; Double Concerto, BWV 1043; Double Concerto, BWV 1060R; Triple Concerto, BWV 1064R
Drawing on the precedents of Vivaldi and others, Bach’s probing musical intellect led him down novel paths of invention where the collaborative and antagonistic features of the genre reached unprecedented levels of complexity. (...) The state of the surviving musical sources for Bach’s concertos suggests that he produced them for a variety of contexts, whether the courtly milieu of Köthen, the urban setting of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig, or even for his own domestic entertainment. This was music that he was willing to rework for different occasions, and each of the concertos on this disc existed in more than one version.
(from liner notes by Tim Jones)
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- Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for 2 Violins, BWV 1043 in D minor
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for 3 Violins, BWV 1064R in D major (after BWV 1064)
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for Flute, Violin and Keyboard, BWV 1044 in A minor
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Concerto for Oboe and Violin, BWV 1060R in C minor
Review by Graham Williams - May 19, 2013
The many admirers of the recordings by Rachel Podger and her Brecon Baroque will be delighted by the appearance of this second SACD of Bach concertos to join her previous Channel Classics release Bach: Violin Concertos 1-2 - Podger. This time the disc is devoted to double and triple concertos.
Brecon Baroque is a one-to-a-part ensemble, so in each of the four concertos presented here the solo instruments are accompanied by single string players for the ripieno parts. The resulting transparency of sound and unanimity of ensemble is apparent in every bar of these performances. Thanks, however, to both the warm ambience of the recording venue (St. John’s the Evangelist, Upper Norwood, London) and the skill of recording engineer Jared Sacks, the sound quality is as full-bodied as that on other recordings with considerably larger forces.More importantly, freshness and enthusiasm permeate each and everyone of these performances with never a trace anywhere of them being hidebound by the impressive scholarship that underpins them.
The popular D minor Concerto for Two Violins BWV 1043 that opens the disc exemplifies the rewards of the Brecon Baroque approach to these works. The outer movements are zestful and spirited yet the seraphic slow movement is tender, but never sentimentalised as can sometimes be the case on other versions of this concerto. Rachel Podger and her partner Bojan Cicic are ideally matched in this work as is strikingly demonstrated by the way the melody of the 'Largo ma non tanto' passes seamlessly between them.
The account of the second double concerto (BWV 1060R) is equally compelling, thanks not least to the piquancy of Alexandra Bellamy's fine oboe playing. The Concerto for Three Violins in D, BWV1064R is a hypothetical reconstruction of Bach's more familiar Concerto for Three Harpsichords in C, BWV1064. Tempi are quite steady in the outer movements but this does allow the listener to fully relish both Bach's contrapuntal writing and the virtuosity of Podger and her two partners - Johannes Pramsohler and once again Bojan Cicic.
For this listener the highlight of this SACD is the brilliant performance of the Triple Concerto in A minor BWV 1044. All three of its movements are based on Bach's earlier solo keyboard works and in its present form has the same scoring as the 5th Brandenburg Concerto. The richness of the writing is immediately apparent, and special praise must be given to the adroit harpsichord of Marcin Swiatkiewicz whose playing never dominates that of his partners – especially the bright flute of Katy Bircher.
Competition from rival versions on record in this repertoire is intense, but the vivacity and depth of musical utterance of these performances - allied to a state-of-the-art recording - makes this an irresistible disc and one to be unreservedly recommended.
Copyright © 2013 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net