Bach's concertos for 1, 2 and 3 harpsichords date from the 1730's during his time in Leipzig.All of them (with the exception of BWV 1061 which was for 2 solo harpsichords WITHOUT strings) are transcriptions of concertos originally for melody instruments that he composed between 10 to 20 years earlier.In some cases the original versions survive such as the 3 violin concertos BWV 1041-1043 which Bach transcribed for the harpsichord counterpart - BWV 1054,1058 and 1062 transposing them down a tone in the process.BWV 1057 is a reworking of Brandenburg concerto no 4 and again is transposed down a tone.
When Bach and his sons performed these concertos at entrepreneur Gottfried Zimmerman's coffee house they almost certainly would have been performed with one string player per part - just 2 violins,viola,cello and double bass to accompany the concertante harpsichord/s.This is also exactly what Matthew Halls and his Retrospect Ensemble have done in their recording of 4 concertos,thereby recreating as closely as possible how they would have sounded in 1730's Leipzig.BWV 1055 is thought by some to originally have been for the oboe d more although i personally believe it may have been a viola concerto - nevertheless it also works well on harpsichord particularly because of Matthew Halls tasteful playing and excellent tempi gauging.As previously mentioned BWV 1057 is an adaptation of the Fourth Brandenburg concerto and BWV 1058 is violin concerto BWV 1041.The best one of all is the famous BWV 1052 - an early sturm und drang style concerto in the dramatic key of d minor which requires great virtuosity from the harpsichordist and out of all Bach's harpsichord concertos this is the one that does indeed work better in it's later instrument designation than in it's original (reconstructed) violin version.
The performances here by Matthew Halls and his small group of 5 string players are of the highest standard and they are afforded terrific sound engineering,therefore a solid recommendation is without hesitation.
I do hope they very soon get round to recording BWV 1053,1054 and 1056 as a follow up to this fantastic start.
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