The Hidden Reunion
JS Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 6; Orchestral Suite No. 2; Telemann: Ouverture-Suite for Viola da gamba and Strings, TWV 55:D6
Michael Schmidt-Casdorff (flute), Rainer Zipperling (viola da gamba); Orchestra of the 18th Century
Glossa GCD 921130 57:16 mins
The Hidden Reunion bears no reference to a hitherto undocumented meeting of two lifelong friends – Bach and Telemann – but to the problems of recording an ensemble programme, masked, during the Covid pandemic. A booklet essay takes us through the trials and tribulations of the Orchestra of the 18th Century, while at the same time celebrating its Phoenix-like ascent from the ashes following the death, in 2014, of its founder and director, Frans Brüggen.
The menu is attractive. Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat, with its scoring for violas, viola da gamba, cello, violone and harpsichord, sets a suitably dark-coloured palette for this context. What a sublime work it is and, for the present writer, the most indispensable and enduring of all Bach’s concertos. This performance is intimately voiced, texturally clear and eloquently and lovingly articulated.
Telemann’s Ouverture-Suite in D major calls for a viola da gamba as solo instrument throughout. The intimacy of the Sixth Brandenburg is preserved by the softly-spoken voice of the gamba and Rainer Zipperling’s solo playing is expressive, though the recorded sound sometimes comes across as hollow and muted. Among the most striking movements are an elegiac Sarabande and a Courante which contains effective polyphony between gamba and violin and the remaining strands of the texture.
The disc concludes with Bach’s Suite in B minor for flute and strings. Michael Schmidt-Casdorff unhurriedly reaches the heart of the piece, always avoiding those all too commonly encountered exaggerated flourishes which add nothing.