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JS Bach: Violin Concertos; Concerto for Two Violins in D minor

Shunske Sato; Il Pomo d’Oro/Zefira Valova (Erato)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

JS Bach Violin Concertos; Concerto for Two Violins in D minor
Shunske Sato (violin); Il Pomo d’Oro/Zefira Valova (violin)
Erato 9029563387   52:15 mins


This new and vibrant release features three Bach concertos for one and two violins in their original form, as well as a reconstruction for violin of Bach’s presumed later version of the piece for harpsichord and strings.

Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, recalled that his father played the violin cleanly and penetratingly. Shunske Sato reflects these qualities admirably, but there are other virtues, too. His control of melodic contours is eloquently sustained and he is alive to expressive nuance, as may be particularly appreciated in the central slow movements. The rhythmic elasticity of Sato’s phrasing is frequently effective, though I feel that he leans too heavily and too long on individual notes. Stylistically, the gestures are commendable but they are over-emphasised and rather irritating after a while. All these features of Sato’s playing are plentifully on display in the opening movement of the E major Concerto, where he also provides us with a microcosm of his ideas concerning ornamentation and embellishment. In the Concerto for two violins, Sato’s dialogue with Zefira Valova is animated and evenly argued in the outer movements, though the poetic Largo ma non tanto strikes a somewhat prosaic note. In all, the strings of Il Pomo d’Oro give responsive if at times a shade too beefy support.


Nicholas Anderson