Bach: Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052; Harpsichord Concerto in D, BWV 1054; Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056; Violin Concerto in E, BWV 1042

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: L’OISEAU-LYRE
WORKS: Harpsichord Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052; Harpsichord Concerto in D, BWV 1054; Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056; Violin Concerto in E, BWV 1042
PERFORMER: Christophe Rousset (harpsichord), Jaap Schröder (violin); Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood
CATALOGUE NO: 448 178-2
This is a strange collation: a reissue from 1982 of the E major Violin Concerto which is the source of BWV 1054, itself one of three newly recorded harpsichord concertos. If the earlier orchestral string sound is not so sharply focused as it has become recently, it is noticeably warmer – a tribute to the AAM 16 years ago. Hogwood directed Schröder and the 11 strings a touch less urgently, yet with more heartfelt ardour, than in the keyboard version.

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Rousset bends the solo harpsichord rhythms subtly, maintaining a compelling impulsion until a touch of metrical indulgence in the cadenzas of the familiar D minor concerto, BWV 1052. Elsewhere his technical facility is dazzling, cascades of notes all the more breathtaking for Hogwood’s sometimes hard-driven pace. Hogwood too is in inventive humour – in the finale of the Galant F minor concerto his orchestral strings play Bach’s two-note piano echoes pizzicato – but think better of the idea in the closing tutti.

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In the harpsichord concertos, the string forces are deduced from known performances of Bach’s own Collegium Musicum in Leipzig – ten players in all. The recording balance creates a weighty bass though the sound is immediate and vital. George Pratt