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JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos / Müthel: Duetto

Aapo Häkkinen, Miklós Spányi, et al (harpischord); Helsinki Baroque Orchestra (Aeolus)

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JS Bach • Müthel
JS Bach: Concertos for 3 and 4 Harpsichords, BWV 1063-1065; Müthel: Duetto in E flat major
Aapo Häkkinen, Miklós Spányi, Cristiano Holtz, Anna-Maaria Oramo (harpischord); Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Aeolus AE10107   77:40 mins


Is there any Baroque concerto more viscerally scintillating than Bach’s specimen for four harpsichords BWV 1065? There should perhaps be inverted commas around the composer’s name: it is, after all, an irrepressibly joyous reworking of Vivaldi’s Op. 3 No. 10 for four violins – but so ingenious is Bach’s appropriation, it crowns a collection of solo and multi-keyboard concertos that enlivened the Friday night gatherings at Zimmermann’s coffee house in Leipzig. And it signs off (almost) Aapo Häkkinen’s survey with his Helsinki Baroque Orchestra – CPE Bach maestro Miklós Spányi among his cohort of collaborators. Between them they preside over a veritable European Union of instruments, uniting German, French, Dutch and Italian models, Häkkinen’s copy of a 1760 Hass decidedly more than first among equals with its thunderous 16-foot stop.  It certainly intensifies the gravitas of BWV 1063, compounded by the sumptuous legato of the opening, a somewhat bullish slow movement and brow-furrowed finale. There’s more light and shade in the C major BWV 1064: Häkkinen doesn’t let the Adagio sit down, and imbues the concluding Allegro with a smouldering, gnarly passion – something less evident in BWV 1065’s finale, though the excited chatter of the first movement bounces along with boundless glee.

By way of postscript Häkkinen and Spányi decamp to a pair of opulent clavichords for a Duetto by Bach’s last pupil, Johann Gottfried Müthel. Even their stylishly nuanced, effortlessly expressive playing can’t conceal some longueurs in the overextended Allegro moderato, but the slow movement almost outdoes CPE Bach in its emotional twists and turns.

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Paul Riley