Please note that this review has been double-listed, both correctly and wrongly. This is a software problem that is out of the control of reviewers unfortunately and applies to discs with similar titles such as here. Please be patient and do not blame the innocent reviewer. Just scroll on past or not as required. My thanks to readers who have informed me of this problem. Best wishes, Ian Giles.
I have owned this recording,originally published in 1983, ever since it first appeared. Unusually for an avid collector, it has not been joined by many others and all of those have finally gone by the wayside leaving this one version remaining.
This is very much a 'period' recording without the fuller tone and extra vibrato used by players with modern orchestral instruments. However it must be stressed that this is not an example for the problems encountered by purchasers of early 'period' recordings as by now problems such as tuning issues and acerbic tone quality had been totally overcome. The English Consort under the guidance of Trevor Pinnock were very much at the forefront of this advance in playing technology. Both the soloists, Simon Standage and Elizabeth Wilcock, were also very much in the forefront of this advance with Standage being a regular soloist.
As a result of all the above we are able to hear this music as close to the original expectations of Bach as we are likely to achieve given sympathetic interpretations. These we have here. These are not played in a metrical way as was sometimes done in the cause of 'period' performances. Instead there is enough flexibility to allow this music to breathe and flow naturally. That, coupled with the technical accuracy, makes for a potent mix and that is why I have not felt any need to replace this recording over many years.
Needless to say Pinnock and his expert orchestra give exemplary support and the whole disc is recorded with clarity and an appropriate measure of acoustic warmth.
I would suggest that this is a fine disc which should give most purchasers considerable satisfaction for years. At the very least it should be considered as one of a very short short-list of possibilities to consider.
If you prefer your Bach on period instruments, then this probably the best that there is. The speeds are well judged in my opinion. At no point do they seem too slow, which can make this music seem quite tedious, or so fast that the beauty of the music is lost. In the double violin concerto the two soloists work well together, and not adversarial as some recordings appear. Throughout the solosist(s) are well heard without being brought forward. The harpsicord continuo is just right, well balanced without dominating. The only critism I would make is that the CD contains less than 50 minutes of music, so could easily have accomodated another piece. Overall, highly recommended.
This recording of J.S Bach's violin concertos is by far the best I have heard. Simon Standage's violin solos are truly amazing. Under the direction of Trevor Pinnock one should expect high quality and this is no exception. This cd won't leave your collection - it's fantastic.