Bach: Concertos for 1, 2 & 3 Violins

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Concertos for 1, 2 & 3 Violins
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin/director), Alison Bury, Pavlo Beznosiuk, Catherine Mackintosh (violin)Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
CATALOGUE NO: VC 7 59319 2 DDD
Only three of Bach’s violin concertos have survived, but it is known that he rewrote several as harpsichord concertos. It has been possible to use the scores of those which exist in both versions to reconstruct the violin originals. The Concerto in D for Three Violins is a case in point. Reconstructed from the C major work for three harpsichords, its performance here is a triumph, wholly convincing, not least because of the brilliance of the playing.

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The other, more familiar, concertos sound no less fine, since they are performed with a real sense of spontaneity and consistently convincing tempi. The lack of vibrato may not be to all tastes – ‘modern-instrument’ performances would offer rather more emotional warmth in slow movements, for instance – but phrasing is always sensitive, while in the faster music the articulation is precise and unmannered. Elizabeth Wallfisch and Alison Bury achieve a true partnership of equals in the great Double Concerto in D minor, and the OAE plays throughout with the utmost taste and refinement. The recording quality matches the performances in its naturalness and clarity. Terry Barfoot