on 25 May 2013
This is the second installment of Brecon Baroque's survey of Bach's violin concertos and on this cd they concentrate on the double and triple concertos.Rachel Podger is one of my favourite violin masters that specialise in 17th and 18th century practice and so anything she records is certainly of interest to me and after listening to this recording i felt very satisfied but not completely.BWV 1043 the famous double violin concerto that most people know comes off very successfully here largely because the slow middle movement is paced perfectly unlike most other period instrument recordings which take a plodding tempo and make it sound too sentimental.( Brecon Baroque clock in at 6.00 mins for this and it is ideal ).BWV 1060 is the rather well known concerto for violin and oboe which is a reconstruction of the double harpsichord concerto.There is little doubt that this was originally scored for 2 melody instruments but the later harpsichord version is the only one to have survived so it is speculation as to the content of the original.I feel that the case for an oboe in place of a 2nd violin is weak and not entirely convincing - c minor is a rather "uncomfortable" key for the Baroque oboe,something which Bach would almost certainly have been aware of.However d minor is ideal for the oboe but if the concerto is transposed to this key there is 1 note in Bach's score that can't be played on an oboe of the time,therefore giving weight that BWV 1060 was probably a concerto for 2 violins and most likely in d minor - Brecon Baroque perform well here all the same.
The so called triple concerto for violin,flute and harpsichord BWV 1044 is exceptionally well done although it has never resonated with me because i prefer the solo harpsichord original on which the outer movements are based BWV 894.
Finally comes BWV 1064 a concerto for 3 violins which is a reconstruction of the triple harpsichord version.This is a wonderful concerto but it does not come off quite as successfully this time as there is just a hint of instability at the start of the last allegro (6th or 7th note in ?) and the tempo of the first movement is slightly laboured to my ears - Try Collegium Musicum 90 on chandos for an excellent account of this concerto.
All in all an enjoyable cd by Brecon Baroque although arguably just a shade behind their previous disc of concertos for 1 violin BWV 1041,1042,1055 and 1056 which was simply outstanding.
Perhaps if there is a 3rd and final volume they will give is violin versions of BWV 1052,1053 and 1063 (for 3 violins).
Rachel Podger and Bojan Cicic give the finest performance of the Bach Concerto for Two Violins that I have ever heard. On hearing it you just forget all previous encounters with the work, that often romanticised it, and are totally thrilled by the revelation of the music's essence. This is surely how it is meant to sound! The phrasing gives a quite different emphasis, with vivid bass lines and that marvellous thinner sound of the baroque violin: the surprising surges in bow speed make the phrases sing out as Bach surely intended. It's a bit like a painting by someone like Terborch after restoration, where the textures gleam in a way you never thought possible, even though the basic structures were there before, of course. The other concertos come up just as well, showing a superb integration of soloists and accompaniment in every case; the texture is infinitely exciting. The Violin and Oboe Concerto is well known, the three instrument works less so, but they are all a joy, and personally I find nothing stands in the way of complete immersion in the face of such playing.
on 28 July 2015
I am not an expert. But I listen to a lot of baroque music, and feel very fortunate to have discovered this CD. I first encountered Rachel Podger's playing through her earlier collaboration on Bach violin concertos with Andrew Manze - also a delightful recording - and have given that as a present several times over. I feel that throughout this recording each of the players is totally engaged. The pace feels ideal, and the tones of the instruments are lovely. Also loved the concerto for oboe and violin as much as the version for two violins on the earlier recording. The whole CD makes me feel like 'air conducting', though of course I can take no credit for the beauty of the music.