JS Bach’s Keyboard Concertos Nos 1-3 performed by Schaghajegh Nosrati

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LABELS: Genuin
WORKS: Keyboard Concertos Nos 1-3, BWV 1052-1054
PERFORMER: Schaghajegh Nosrati (piano); Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin




Schaghajegh Nosrati’s debut disc of JS Bach’s The Art of Fugue came with ringing imprimaturs from pianist András Schiff and fortepianist Robert Levin, and the latter is partly implicated in this sequel devoted to three of Bach’s best-known keyboard concertos. ‘Best-known’ is perhaps misleading though. For while the D major Concerto, BWV 1054 appears newly spruced up, performed with delectable, unadulterated buoyancy, the protean D minor and E major Concertos unveil a fascinating new twist. At Levin’s suggestion, Nosrati presents the outer movements with added wind parts sourced from previous cantata incarnations. Necessary transpositions of key also necessitate instrumental tweaks, yielding a trio of oboe, oboe d’amore and cor anglais. The result isn’t a reconstruction of a lost version; rather, this is an experiment in ‘what if’, the woodwind chorus lending graininess to the tuttis and moments of pungent commentary elsewhere. 

At her most inspired, Nosrati is a captivating Bachian; rhythmically infectious, supremely intelligent, alive to the expressive kernel without over-milking it. And with minimal vibrato the small-scale forces of the Deutsche Kammerorchester Berlin are stylish collaborators. Sometimes Nosrati’s left hand is a little over-insistent, and final cadences a touch apologetic, but the D minor’s first Allegroknows exactly where it’s going (acquiring a little Sturm und Drangen route); the finale blows away the Adagio’s disquiet with gusto; and Nosrati’s penchant for teasing out motivic felicities keeps the opening movements of BWV 1053/4 pulsating with vitality. Bach on the piano has a compelling new exponent. 


Paul Riley