Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos

Magazine article Gramophone

JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos

Article excerpt

Harpsichord Concertos, Vol 3'

Double Concertos (a)--BWV1060; BWV1061; BWV1062. Triple Concertos--BWV1044 (b); BWV1063 (c): BWV1064 (c). Concerto for Four harpsichords, BWV1065 (d)

(b) Katy Bircher fl (b) Manfredo Kraemer vn (d) Marcus Mohlin, (acd) Trevor Pinnock, (cd) Marieke Spaans hpds Concerto Copenhagen / Lars Ulrik Mortensen hpd CPO (F) (2) CP0777 681-2 (106' * DDD)

The concertos for multiple harpsichords from the 1730s are, for the most part, transcriptions from lost earlier (or near-contemporaneous) sources for other instruments--mostly violins, one suspects--but beautifully recrafted by Bach for his Collegium Musicum concert series in Leipzig. Indeed, the vision of father, sons and pupils performing these works in Zimmermann's coffee shop has tended to deflect snobbery that these versions are somehow 'second class'; in any case, most of these works only exist for 'claviers', so the issue is decidedly moot.

There's nothing moot about these strong and satisfyingly direct readings. While nominally helmed by Lars Ulrik Mortensen, his partner in crime is the indefatigable Trevor Pinnock (whose own performances for Archiv in 1980 remain a durable collection for any library) and from the outset the music-making seems to be predicated on gracious partnership and delight in exchange.

Of the three double concertos, BWV1060-62, the famous 'violin double' always presents the greatest challenge, mainly because the 'holy grail' Adagio has none of the visceral qualities of solo strings dovetailing, yearning and yielding with their varying timbres and sustained vocalising. …

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