WORKS: Concerto in A, BWV 1055; Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056; Concerto in G minor, BWV 1058; Italian Concerto, BWV 971
PERFORMER: Vladimir Feltsman (piano, director); Orchestra of St Luke’s
CATALOGUE NO: 67143-2 DDD
Times change. Albert Schweitzer, biographer and exponent of Bach on the organ, considered that ‘we are under no special obligation to incorporate these transcriptions in our concert programmes’. What he disparaged was Bach’s own reworkings of keyboard concertos originally written for other instruments, usually violin and/or oboe. It was part of Bach’s duties as a cantor in Leipzig to write a cantata a week. He was used to working quickly and, if necessary, reworking material which may have been used before and in an entirely different context. In the years immediately preceding Leipzig, Bach was at the court of Cöthen (1717-23) and most of his important keyboard works date from then, including those on this disc.
The soloist never stops and Feltsman’s energy knows no bounds, the small Orchestra of St Luke’s giving finely balanced support. Feltsman’s emphasis on clean tone and Bach’s motoric rhythmic drive is well placed, though he does tend to rush, especially in the solo Italian Concerto. Here the recording acoustic is rather dead after the lively one for the accompanied works. Purists may prefer the original instruments or even a harpsichord as soloist, but these piano versions also have their place. Christopher Fifield