Father and son combine beautifully in glorious Bach recording

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Hänsler Classic
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 1& 2, BWV 1041 & 1042; Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052; Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C minor, BWV 1060R
PERFORMER: Frank Peter Zimmermann, Serge Zimmermann (violin); Berliner Barock Solisten
CATALOGUE NO: HC17046

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The A minor and E major Violin Concertos, BWV 1041 and 1042, appear here with two ‘lost’ concertos, reconstructed from Bach’s later adaptations of them. The D minor work, BWV 1052, today one of his best-known harpsichord concertos, is here restored to its original version for solo violin, while BWV 1060 – familiar in its re-casting for two harpsichords – was first scored for two melody instruments: violin and oboe, or two violins as heard on this recording.

Frank Peter Zimmermann plays a precious 1711 Stradivarius, the ‘Lady Inchiquin’ (once owned by Fritz Kreisler), and it’s an apt and eloquent instrument for Bach, its sound pure as reeled silk. Zimmerman, who is more associated with Romantic and contemporary warhorses, here lightens his touch, crisps up the articulation and reduces his vibrato, to produce a vaguely period style. For the Double Concerto, he’s joined by his son, Serge, and the two converse with intuitive, familial ease – Serge’s cantabile equally sweet if slightly more timorous.

Drawn from the Berlin Philharmonic, the Baroque Soloists yield a cut-glass sound on modernised period instruments. As one might expect, these are honed, pristine accounts with scrupulous attention to Bach’s filigree writing. At times, tempos are rather motoric and driven – the Allegros tend to run rather than dance – and the readings lack a little in pliancy and rhetorical freedom. Yet these wee cavils don’t seriously detract from these highly refined accounts.
Kate Bolton‐Porciatti