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.
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.
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.
In the world of classical-music recordings, the works of J.S. Bach naturally have overshadowed those of the "other" Bachs - the great composer's sons and ancestors. Yet as this CD demonstrates, there is considerable, beauty, originality and power in those too-neglected works. Charles Medlam, the well established interpreter of Baroque music, and his London Baroque ensemble are joined here by harpsichordist Richard Egarr in a demonstration that J.S.'s son Wilhelm Friedemann was in his own right an exceptional composer with a firm understanding of both his father's Baroque-synthesizing insights into musical structure and the new demands of the emerging Classical period in composition. This generally well-produced recording of three clavier concertos by J.S.'s oldest son sparkles with a blend of the old and the new - hints, and sometimes strong ones, of his father's musical approaches combined with treatments evocative of Haydn and the younger Mozart (whom it is said was taught briefly by one or more of the Bach boys). The performance stands as worthy of listening in its own right. And for those as yet unfamiliar with the output of Bach's more talented offspring, W.F. and Carl Philipp Emanual, it is an excellent introduction to a too-often bypassed corner of musical satisfaction.
This is a really great five-CD set. You get all of Bach's concertos except the Brandenburgs - which is a shame because Pinnock's Brandenburgs are terrific. Nonetheless, this remains an absolutely cracking collection of some of Bach's most enjoyable music in excellent performances. In the Harpsichord Concertos Pinnock is himself the soloist and shows why he is such a very well-liked and highly regarded musician. The music springs to life under his fingers (and under his direction) and many of these performances set new and enduring standards when first released in the early 1980s. They have informed much subsequent Bach playing and have worn extremely well themselves, sounding as fresh and involving as they did nearly 30 years ago. He is joined by other fine harpsichordists in the concerti for two, three and four harpsichords, (Kenneth Gilbert, Nicholas Kraemer and Lars Ulrich Mortensen) and the Concerto for Four Harpsichords in particular is an absolute joy.
Listeners familiar with other recordings in Masaaki Suzuki's ongoing traversal of Bach's solo keyboard works may find his performances of the Partitas somewhat of an anomaly. For instance, the sharply delineated juxtapositions of tempos that made his Fantasias and Fugues program so thrilling (type Q3840 in Search Reviews) are nowhere to be heard here. The interpretive agenda this time is much subtler and decidedly more introverted.