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 Cembalo Concerti WBV 1052-1054, 1056

Bach cembalo cera I know F. Cera from his work with Il Giardino Armonico. I had the opportunity to find this CD for sale when I was in France earlier this year. It opens with perhaps my favorite of the Bach hapsichord concertos, BWV 1052. The recorded sound is well done, with some nice stereo separation from the ensemble, noticeable with headphones. The harpsichord always comes through clearly in the texture, with the I Barocchisi orchestra using plenty of dynamic contrast to keep things interesting. The outer movements of BWV 1053, I thought, could have gone faster. BWV 1056 in F minor is a shorter work, and while I have heard this one go faster too, the tempo they adopt is fast enough, and it adds some gravitas to the mood, supporting the minor key. The slow movement of this piece is a favorite, Bach's so-called Arioso. Cera adopts an open sound in the right hand, and a stopped sound in the left. I am always a little suspicious of changing the instruments sound like this in concertos, but it works nevertheless. The final work is one for which I have a lot of history, Bach's own remix of his E-major violin concerto, now in D major (BWV 1054). This is the piece (under Trevor Pinnock and his English Concert) that helped me discover Bach back in the late 1980s. I listened to it over and over. I like the tempo faster than what Cera and I Barocchisi have chosen, but what's faster works well for the violin version. In this case, the slightly slower chosen tempo helps support the keyboard as the solo instrument, for no other reason, helping the listener get every detail of the right hand's taxing job. What is more taxing is the slow movement - it's a hard one to do, I think, because it's kind of dark and ultimatley long. Cera does a nice job, but if I were being asked for a suggestion, yes, the tempo could be just a hair faster. The final movement isn't too fast, but it has a lot of character and bounce, not to mention a nice sonic boost from the bass. All in all, I think this was a good effort. I have, however, another (more recent) release to compare it to, by Aapo Hakkinen and the Helsinki Baroque orchestra. BWV 1056, 1053, and 1052 are on both single CD releases (Cera also recorded a second edition, and I believe Hakkinen is also planning to record more). I ultimately prefer the release by Hakkinen, especially for the opening concerto, BWV 1052, as he chooses a faster tempo; his orchestra led by Riccardo Minasi, is far more fierce and aggressive; and ultimately the sound of the solo instrument with its 16' register wins me over. That said, the older recording by Cera and company is a perfectly fine set.

Biber's 1681 Sonatas by Letzbor & Ars Antiqua

Bach Fantasy