JS Bach: Violin Concertos

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Archiv Produktion
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach: Violin Concertos
WORKS: Violin Concertos, BWV 1041, BWV 1042, BWV 1056R, BWV 1052R; Two Violin Concerto BWV 1043
PERFORMER: Giuliano Carmignola (violin); Mayumi Hirasaki (violin); Concerto Köln

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As well as the three violin concertos by Bach that have been preserved in their original form (BWV 1041-1043), Giuliano Carmignola has included two reconstructions by Marco Serino that have survived in versions for harpsichord and strings. Carmignola is on characteristically ebullient form, bringing sparkling virtuosity to Bach’s outer movements while revelling in the poetry of the inner ones. It is here, rather than in the dazzling solo passagework of the brisk flanking pieces, that I found more to enjoy.

Carmignola’s linear control is well-sustained and expressive, as in the Adagio of the E major Concerto, BWV 1042 and the brooding Adagio of the D minor Concerto, BWV 1052R. These strengths serve well the melody of the sublime Largo ma non tanto of the D minor Concerto for two violins. Here Carmignola is partnered by Mayumi Hirasaki who plays first violin. Their fugal dialogue is even and clear with sensitive articulation.

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Any reservations that I harbour concerning the performances mainly concern the outer movements. The players favour tempos whose briskness sometimes leads to scrambling and there is over-accentuation in both the solo and ripieno playing. My reservations, though, are outnumbered by the virtues, among which are a discreetly imag-inative harpsichord continuo, incisive ensemble and a sympathetic recorded sound. Nicholas Anderson