It was no secret that Bach borrowed from the latest musical styles from neighboring France and regions of Italy and blended them together - with a strong dose of German polyphony and structure - to create some of the finest music of the period. The influences of the Italian concerto style are most seen in these three-movement concertos featuring sprightly outer movements around the traditional slower, cantabile middle movement - while the dance influences of France (Minuet, Bourree, Courrante) permeate much of Bach's secular music.
With Robert King leading from the harpsichord, the King's Consort brings world-class authentic period playing to these concertos. For those who care about such things, their tuning is A = 415 hz. (as compared to 440 hz. normally) with the temperament style listed as "Valotti" - both of which are likely responsible for the slightly different "feel" to their performances. There is a relaxed elegance to King's approach to Bach here that I found very attractive. For those used to more vivacios allegros and outrightly empassioned adagios, their reading here might sound more "mundane" at times - but there is a nobility and poise to the flow that many might find just right for Bach. Are these truly "Historically-Informed Performances" (HIP)? It seems so as period violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch for one is of noted for her digging deep into the hidden caverns of authenticity (eg: her Bach solo violin works).
Regardless of the musicology behind this reading, the music is very inviting and refreshing - as Bach should be. In the wrong hands, Bach's meandering andante movement on violin can sound rather reminscent of a high-school recital. But, the soloists here are impeccable masters of their instruments with spot-on tonality in those critical moments. Catherine Mackintosh takes the lead on the E major and A minor concertos while Elizabeth Wallfisch partnering on the double violin concerto and oboe/violin concerto (BWV 1060). The oboe concerto is excellent as well with alluring oboe work from Paul Goodwin that has a calm and confident virtuosity feel to it. The Andante movement here is most lovely with the oboe adding exquisitely smooth countours to the music. The Hyperion engineered sound is great - full, balanced, optimal resonance, no hiss. All-in-all, a splendid Baroque CD! Compositions - 5 stars; Performance - 5 stars; Sound quality and balance - 5 stars.
I would say, if you like your Bach slightly more relaxed, "German" and period-sounding than "Italian" and vivacious, then this CD should be a great choice. I really liked the calming and musically-rich textures that King created here, although some might find it not bright enough to start their day. For me, I much appreciate this treatment of Bach.