JS Bach: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV1041; Violin Concerto in E, BWV1042; Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor, BWV1060; Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV1043

COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: ABC
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV1041; Violin Concerto in E, BWV1042; Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor, BWV1060; Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV1043
PERFORMER: Richard Tognetti, Helena Rathbone (violin), Diana Doherty (oboe); Australian Chamber Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: 476 5691
Richard Tognetti plays on gut strings in this recording, but still gets a smooth sound from his 18th-century instrument – there’s none

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of the rawness of attack that can make a period performance like Andrew Manze’s so exciting, or the devil-may-care improvisatory quality of Nigel Kennedy in full flight. But Tognetti’s sound isn’t too sweet, and his use of vibrato is careful: in the slow movement of the A minor, he has the courage to play long held notes absolutely straight, and it works because his intonation is so impeccable. In that sense, this is one of the most technically perfect recordings of these concertos around.

There is also a lightness of phrasing and texture, as well as some of the more annoying aspects of modern playing, especially the tendency to linger overlong on the first notes of phrases. I found this especially in the first movements of the two solo concertos, though this is partly redeemed by the crisp attack of the orchestra, and the complete unanimity of purpose. In the double concertos, there’s a considered balance and interplay between the soloists, and the interrelationship between them and the orchestra is well caught by the recording, with Diana Doherty’s oboe full-toned and smooth. In BWV 1043, Helena Rathbone matches Tognetti in phrasing and vibrato, and in vigour in the outer movements, but I miss the sheer fantasy and daring of Manze and Podger in the Largo, where their ornamentation of the lines has a wonder and spontaneity that creates the music afresh.

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Martin Cotton