Bach: Harpsichord Concerto in D, BWV 1054; Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056; Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1062; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Harpsichord Concerto in D, BWV 1054; Harpsichord Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056; Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1062; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D
PERFORMER: Paul Nicholson (harpsichord), Stephen Preston (flute), Jane Rogers (viola), Jonathan Manson (cello); Purcell Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0595
Bach’s keyboard concertos are virtually all transcriptions of works, many of them now lost, whose solo parts were originally conceived for melody instruments. The curiosity on Collegium Musicum 90’s disc is a reconstruction of the putative original of Bach’s Triple Keyboard Concerto, BWV 1064. If the three violin soloists sound a touch tentative in its opening movement, they come into their own in the melancholic Adagio. For the remaining items in their programme of violin concertos they are on familiar ground. While their slim resources enable them to produce athletic performances, their sound can be rather wiry; but Standage and Comberti are well-matched partners in the famous Double Concerto, offering a refreshingly unsentimental approach.

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On another Chandos disc, it’s a pleasure to hear the harpsichordist Robert Woolley, much better known as a continuo player, take the limelight. Here, paring down is taken to an extreme as the Purcell Quartet play one to a part. There’s an appealing grace and dance-like quality to their performances, though the pizzicato accompaniment in the Largo of the F minor harpsichord concerto is surprisingly heavy.

A more dramatic approach to this, and other keyboard concertos, is taken by Musica Alta Ripa. These are thrilling, gutsy interpretations, with a particularly fine account of the double harpsichord concerto (in the version without strings).

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Finally, full marks to Virgin Veritas for the most enterprising programme in this clutch of recordings. The disc includes a compelling performance of the Triple Concerto BWV 1044, with its dazzling harpsichord part nonchalantly tossed off by Paul Nicholson. For the most part, though, the spotlight falls on Anthony Robson, the soloist in his own reconstructions of concertos for oboe and the darker-toned oboe d’amore. Much of this is virtuoso music stretching the instruments to their limits.