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I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Huggett performs Bach

Sonnerie and Monica Huggett perform Bach's Violin Concerti. Huggett - Bach Concertos I spied this release on the iTunes Music Store, but ordered the CD. I liked what I heard online, but wanted a full-hog, full-resolution version. I compared it to other recordings. First and foremost, this CD succeeds by nature of its recorded sound: things are crisp and clear. I compared her reading of my favorite A-minor concerto, BWV 1041, with Andrew Manze with the AAM. The AAM recording chooses faster tempi, and the soloist, Manze, rises to the top of the froth of strings, projecting Bach's melodies and contrapuntal fury with some attitude. Yet, the recorded sound is muted and distant. Huggett's reading, more up-front, natural, and warmer. With Huggett's reading, however, she can hide. She can hide behind the other players, as they use a 1/part ratio. With the A minor, she takes it all a bit slower, but the concerto really doesn't suffer for it. It's a light touch she has, and across the whole disc, it might dilute our pleasure. But she has attitude under her skirt, too. The opening work, reviewed previously, is the arranged D-minor work, and no matter who you are, this work has some attitude. While less intense, the G minor work, BWV 1056, is likewise here re-scored for violin. The middle movement is a real favorite; having played it myself many times on the trombone, I liked Huggett's solo, but didn't care as much for the harpsichord using lute stop. Somehow, I question whether or not this effect was used in continuo. Just a hunch. The third movement of the G-minor picks up speed, and shows what happens in a small ensemble. The tempo can shift, transparency illuminates the work's complexity (or simplicity), and little start-stops in the tempo take us for surprise. It could be a bad thing, but here, I kind of like the little shifts in tempo between phrases... it gives the work a very human, organic feeling. The E-major work, the famous BWV 1042, is well-performed, too. I like some of Huggett's phrasing in the last movement. All the tempi chosen are moderate, by modern-day standards. None convey too much attitude. And maybe that's what holds me back from giving a most enthusiastic nod, here. I like the tempos swift, the fiesty attitude, and the sassy kicks in line and dynamics that set our friends Manze and Biondi apart. Yet, this is a great collection, nonetheless... why? The recorded sound, the ensemble sound (they mesh together very well in tone), and there's something attractive about the one per part scoring that lets us hear each of Bach's lines in a most intimate manner. This is no definitive set, but one that has charm. Huggett and company take a back seat to saying something profound, and instead, let Bach's music speak for itself. There, they have succeeded.

Other Fans

Bach's BWV 1052