LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052; Concerto in C for Two Harpsichords, BWV 1061; Concerto for Flute, Violin & Harpsichord in A minor, BWV 1044
PERFORMER: Purcell Quartet; Paul Nicholson (harpsichord), Stephen Preston (flute)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0641
The native vitality of Bach’s harpsichord concerto transcriptions – which provided a rich source of music for his family and students in the 1740s – is winningly conveyed by the positive attack and vigorous energy of the performances on this disc. However, problems of definition and rhythmic precision occasionally blur the details.
The opening movement of the C major Concerto goes with impressive verve, and the Adagio flows naturally. Meanwhile, the lively interplay between the soloists and the full band articulates the closing fugue with pleasing clarity. But here, as in the A minor Concerto, there is a disturbing tendency to push the tempo.
This group’s direct approach is particularly well suited to the D minor Concerto’s bold dynamic gestures. Notwithstanding some muddiness in the bass frequencies, a compulsive motoric drive in the outer movements carries an infectious joie de vivre, while Robert Woolley’s crisply phrased arioso in the slow movement is refreshingly free from affectation.
Forward placement of the soloists in the A minor Concerto presents their lithe athleticism in the outer movements and beautifully atmospheric playing in the Adagio (for harpsichord, violin and flute alone) in good focus. A shame that as the emotional involvement increases the ensemble tautness relaxes. Nicholas Rast