This is an enjoyable, somehow spontaneous recording of several of Bach's works for a pair of harpsichords, with the great Japanese Bach conductor Masaaki Suzuki joined by his son Masato. The high spirits of the elder Suzuki here could be chalked up to any combination of several factors. One might be freedom from the rigors of his complete Bach cantata cycle, just recently completed when this album appeared in 2014.
Three double concertos for harpsichord by Bach survive, all dating from around 1736, and all arrangements of earlier compositions. BWV 1060 is thought to have originated as a now lost double concerto for oboe and violin, while BWV 1062 is a reworking of the well-loved concerto for two violins. Unlike these two works, BWV 1061 was composed for two harpsichords from the outset, but probably started out as a concerto without orchestral accompaniment – this will have been added later. Performing these works, with a quintet of string players from the Bach Collegium Japan, Masaaki Suzuki is joined by his son Masato. For the present disc Masato Suzuki has also taken a page from Bach’s own book, in arranging the composer’s Orchestral Suite No.1 for two unaccompanied harpsichords.
This Bach release by American harpsichordist Elizabeth Farr is unusual in several respects and will be welcomed by listeners with Bach collections of any size. Start with the harpsichord, built by the iconoclastic maker Keith Hill in rural Manchester, MI. It's modeled on the Dutch Ruckers instruments of the 17th century, but it includes a set of 16-foot strings, and it has a truly mighty sound, beautifully captured at what is identified as Ploger Hall in the same locality. It's not clear what this venue is, but it's vast improvement over Naxos' preferred church sites. The booklet (in English only) includes a short note from Hill admitting that such a harpsichord would have been rare in Bach's time, but suggesting that it was a luxury item that its "value cannot be overestimated" when it is used where it makes musical sense. That's definitely the case here. These "concertos for solo harpsichord" are transcriptions Bach made for solo keyboard in the early 1710s, of mostly violin concertos by mostly Italian composers. It is not known for certain why Bach made them; he may simply have liked the music and wanted to study it more closely, but Farr's detailed notes also indicate that the transcriptions might have been done at the behest of Bach's patron at the time, the Duke of Weimar.
The soloist in all the concertos of our recording is Josef Suk (1929), the grandson of the composer Josef Suk (1874-1935) and great- grandson of Antonin Dvorak. Since 1954, he has been pursuing an uninterrupted and diversified solo career and has become the most eminent Czech violin virtuoso of his generation. Suk's partner in Bach's Concerto for Two Violins is the Czech violin virtuoso Ladislav Jasek (1929), who has been active in Australia since the early 1970's. The oboe part in the Double Concerto in D minor BWV 1060a is played by Jan Adamus (1951).
Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia should have recorded all of Mozart's piano music for four hands, which includes several neglected masterpieces. This disc reflects their ideal partnership, two artists of great sensitivity collaborating in performances that feature constant interplay of parts, alertness to each other's work, and superb playing as individuals. The Concerto for Two Pianos ripples along without a care in the world, just as it should, and the English Chamber Orchestra doesn't seem to care that nobody is conducting it. The pieces without orchestra are a bit less significant (as is the Concerto for Three Pianos), but the playing is so beautiful you won't care.
This recording presents a completely new way of thinking about concerto performance. It is based on our belief that these timeless Bach masterpieces still allow room for discovery and adventure. ~ Bob James
Т. Nikolaeva's concert activities, having begun even before the pianist's victory at the Bach International Competition in 1950, have continued for more than 40 years. Eliso Virsaladze is a laureate of several international competitions. On May 7, 1986 at the New Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire there took place the first recital of pianist Nikolai Lugansky, a Central Music School pupil. The large complex programme of the concert, technically perfect full of the youthful exuberance and inspiration, demonstrated the pianist's mature sense of style and deep insight into each works performed.