JS Bach • Telemann Concertos for viola & Bassoon
Bach rarely used the viola as a solo instrument, though notable exceptions include Cantata No. 5 and a duo of soloists in Brandenburg Concerto No. 6. CPE Bach was unequivocal, though, that his father ‘liked best to play the viola’.
BWV 1053 is already thoroughly recycled. Bach probably wrote it first for oboe d’amore and strings; this was lost but preserved as the Harpsichord Concerto in E and in cantata movements. The viola matches the tonal warmth of the original alto oboe, and the recording places it distinctively in front of the 14 accompanying strings. The purposeful shaping of the meditative Siciliano is beautifully managed.
BWV 1059 similarly depends on Bach’s own re-use of a lost oboe concerto in cantatas. The solo part, transferred to bassoon, reveals glorious lyricism in the slow movement before reverting to bubbling charm in the finale.
The Concerto for two harpsichords BWV 1060 is well-known in an arrangement for oboe and violin. The clever reworking here hides the soloists in the texture at times, so they emerge vividly in their solo episodes. In Telemann’s Viola Concerto, Lars Anders Tomter indulges in splendid improvised fireworks, while the Double Concerto opens like an operatic love duet and ends in high spirits.