JS Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor; Violin Concerto in E; Concerto for Two Violins; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Violin Concerto in A minor; Violin Concerto in E; Concerto for Two Violins; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5
PERFORMER: Daniel Hope (violin); with Marieke Blankestijn (violin), Jaime Martin (flute); Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Kristian Bezuidenhout (harpsichord, organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 62545-2
The three Violin Concertos by Bach that have been preserved in their original form have long enjoyed a place of special affection among audiences. Recordings of these pieces on modern instruments are legion with Menuhin, Oistrakh, Grumiaux and Szeryng being among the leading lights in stylistically middle of the road performances. More recently, and benefiting from the osmotic opportunities afforded by the period instrument, historically informed climate, a lighter textured, more transparent and generally brisker approach has emerged. The sharply defined articulation of Daniel Hope, together with a phraseology closely allied to the dance, points up some of the differences between new and older schools of thought very well.

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Hope’s most pertinent rival in this repertoire is Hilary Hahn who recorded the same three concertos three years ago. Both players are supported by a sympathetic ensemble and I find little to choose between the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, whose longstanding leader, Marieke Blankestijn, partners Hope in the Double Concerto (BWV 1043), and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra with Hahn. Hope and Hahn are both engagingly communicative players, affectively responsive in slow movements and animated in faster ones. It is, perhaps, in the absolute security of her pitching of notes that Hahn has the edge on her competitor, while in matters of expressive delicacy, albeit sometimes over-embellished, Hope sometimes responds with a greater feeling for poetry. In summary a very difficult choice. Hope offers a stylish Brandenburg No. 5 as an additional item, Hahn the Concerto in D minor for violin and oboe. Perhaps that will help to concentrate the mind. Nicholas Anderson