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Bach: Violin Concertos
 
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Bach: Violin Concertos

11 Mar. 2013 | Format: MP3

£7.99 (VAT included if applicable)
Buy the CD album for £13.25 and get the MP3 version for FREE. Does not apply to gift orders.
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Format: Audio CD
Yet another recording of the Bach violin concertos? Why? After all, we've got plenty to choose from, both on period and modern instruments, many with top-flight soloists in the leading roles: Hilary Hahn, Nigel Kennedy, Menuhin...take your pick.

It doesn't take long into this recording for the listener to understand the answer to the above question: contained here are new and at times revelatory readings of these works. It really feels as though the Freiburgers have absorbed both period and modern concepts of playing and emerged the other side, giving us the best of both in performances which above all let the music speak for itself.

The two soloists (three in BWV1064R) are full-time members of the band, and this is most apparent in the synthesis of solo and ensemble lines: there are no stars here apart from Bach himself. In the faster movements the instruments rebound off each other, the rhythmic elasticity creating an energy which brings a reminder that we're never far from the spirit of the dance.

Gottfried von der Goltz and Petra Müllejans are the soloists in the Double Concerto, alternating for the E major (von der Goltz) and the A minor (Müllejans). They have distinctive and very different qualities, with Müllejans soaring, silvery and aerial whilst von der Goltz is intriguingly bucolic, with a more earthy but equally compelling tone. In the Concerto for Three Violins they are joined by Anna Katharina Schreiber in a work normally heard in its version for three harpsichords.

Did we need another recording? A resounding Yes. An outstanding release.
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To characterize this recording I would use the words vitality and interaction. The Freiburgers "attack" these works with astonishing vitality and energy. They literally "throw themselves" into these pieces. One senses their enthusiasm. These are wholehearted performances without fear of taking ricks. As a result they do not apear to aim at elegance and sophistication but are more earthy and "rustical". I imagine that this could have been the way Bach heard them at his Cafe Zimmermann concerts. Some might find this interpretation rather rough (robust is a better term) and a frend of mine found the tone of the soloists "scratchy", which could be the result of recording the instruments very close-up. In German one says: there is more "dirt" to be heard. However,this doesn't prevent me from enjoying their realistically captured sound. In short these are invigorating and stimulating performances. This doesn't imply that the slow movements aren't played with great inwardness and delicacy. They are, and are taken fairly slowly
and deliberately with much feeling.
What however struck me in paricular is the way in which the soloists and "orchestra" interact. In
fact, as one reviewer aptly put it, all the players seem to "rebound from one another". Another reviwer noted that "the soloists emerge from the orchestra" - and recede into it. Constant dialogue! For those who view these works primarily as "concertos" for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra I would advise keeping away from this release. What one hears here is a tightly-woven and intricate "knit" of all instruments. The gain in terms of the contrapunctal structure is immense. One literally hears these works with new ears and in this sense I agree that these performances are revelatory.
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I think this download/CD is now possibly THE best available period instrument recording of these works and I was glad I upgraded from Koopman's sparse but elegant budget rendition :-) Both the performances and sound on this album are truly superb and if purchased, I'm sure you'll agree too!!
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By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 5 May 2013
Format: Audio CD
This is an excellent recording of the Bach Violin Concertos, and well worth its place alongside the best which are available. There is a very good review here by JB, and although I think I would stop short of "revelatory," I agree wholeheartedly with him about the quality of this disc and have only a couple of things to add.

The Concerto for Three Violins is a more rarely recorded piece than the others, being reconstructed from the of the Concerto for Three Harpsichords BWV1064. I always find the harpsichord version enjoyable but a bit of an indistinct jangle from the solo instruments, and it is a real pleasure to hear distinct solo lines from the violins. It is very well done, and almost certainly a version of the work which Bach himself wrote but which has been lost.

Oddly, I have only recently come across an identical programme to this disc recorded in 1999 by Simon Standage and Colleguim Musicum 90 Bach: Violin Concertos. (Honestly, you wait ages for a violin version of the Concerto For Three harpsichords, and then two come along at once...). This recording by von der Goltz and the Freiburger Baroque Orchestra is perhaps a little brisker and springier of step, while the Standage disc has a slightly warmer, more restrained feel, but both discs are excellent and it's a matter of taste which one you might prefer. (For what it's worth, I love both but probably just prefer this one on balance.)

It was the Freiburgers' excellent disc of Bach Overtures/Suites J.S. Bach: Ouverturen / Complete Orchestral Suites (GRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER 2012) which encouraged me to try this and I wasn't disappointed. It's just as good and very warmly recommended.
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