BACH: Violin Concerto BWV 1052 & Double Concertos for harpsichords, recorders, oboe and violin – Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin – Harmonia mundi HMC 901876, 64:00 ****:
If the BWV number 1052 looks familiar, but out of place with a violin concerto, you’re right. This is the reconstruction of the “original” version of the famous D minor keyboard concerto. It’s the keynote for a disc full of well-known concertos played by less well-known soloists. In addition to the harpsichord concerto for violin, there are Bach’s own transcriptions of his famous two-violin concerto (for two harpsichords) and the fourth Brandenburg Concerto (for harpsichord and two recorders), plus (in the form in which it’s most often heard) his lovely concerto for oboe and violin.
They all work well—as the album cover says, this is a chance to look into Bach’s workshop. They’re also all played with sparkling energy, an amazing amount of clarity which somehow never grows cold, and a lack of the kind of affectation which can disfigure (or enhance, according to your taste) performances by many of the Akademie’s original instrument colleagues. All in all, very refreshing!
Recorded in the Teldex Studio in Berlin, the sound is breathtakingly pure and simply beautiful. As an added bonus, Midori Seiler’s liner notes are excellent, beginning with this heartbreaking note: “It is obvious that only a fraction of Bach’s orchestral output has reached posterity.”
– Laurence Vittes