I love music.

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

Bach: Concertos

Some years ago, Harmonia Mundi released a Bach album by the German Akademie for Ancient Music. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I only purchased two of the concertos via an online service. bach_altemusik.jpg They appeared in this morning's rotation and I've done a disservice by not writing about the performances sooner. BWV 1052 is among one of my favorite Bach concertos. Of course, its placement in the 1050s would suggest it is a harpsichord concerto, but as with several ensembles today, the AAM-Berlin has recorded it in an incarnation for violin. They choose very spritely tempos, tempi which wouldn't work in each space. It demands close listening, in fact. As the music wafted out from one room into the other, it sounded rushed. But close-up, it's spot-on fantastic, toe tapping and fun. The violinist comes across clean with an at-times strident tone, but one that helps penetrate the texture. I love their interpretation, especially in sections with solo passagework. These people get the spirit of Bach. The concerto obviously works well as a solo concerto for violin. The third movement brings back the fast tempo, with a soloist this time who manages more so this time to penetrate the texture of the orchestra with accents and very stylish playing. I like to compare this reading to the most excellent one by Fabio Biondi and company on Virgin Veritas. While Biondi is a favorite, this reading is no less valued in my collection. The second concerto, the "double" BWV 1060, is here presented in a version for violin and oboe. The tempi this time are not as severe, but the colors are more rich. The oboe especially has a nice roundness of tone that mimics for me a very fine wine that might proffer a great mouth feel, forward fruit, and a sophisticated finish. What does that mean? This oboe has a very dynamic sound that along with the period strings, sounds great. The middle movement of BWV 1060 is a famous one by Bach, that opens with a wonderful little melody that later introduces intermingling with the oboe. It's up there with Bach's "Air" from BWV 1068 in terms of its charm and having a played a few of these tunes, I know they're a lot of fun to play. With repeats, they can be a backdrop for amazing ornamentation. Here, the AAM-Berlin don't overdo things (Biondi too records this one, and he has more fun with the ornamentation). The final movement is brash with a lot of movement (a stormy opening), and the first statement by our soloists confirms for me that the instrumentalists on this recording would have been better represented by a drier acoustic, or a closer miking. While a detail like this is important, it's not important enough to take away from a very strong and stylish interpretation of Bach that's fun each time you listen.


Inauguration Photos