There is certainly no shortage of recordings of these popular Bach violin works, but this one by the Dunedin Consort with violinist Cecilia Bernardini has many aspects to recommend it. At the top of the list must be the soloist's flair of Bernardini herself, playing a bright-eyed 1743 Camillus Camilli violin. In her playing you get the virtuoso energy of the contemporary Italian school without the hard edge, and there is a sense of play in her music-making that one senses Bach would have loved.
Akiko Suwanai (born in 1972) is one of the brightest violinists to have emerged in the late 20th century, winning the Tchaikovsky International Competition, the youngest person to do so, in 1990. She has gone on to an impressive concert and recording career that encompasses both traditional repertoire and world premieres. Her 2006 album J.S. Bach: Violin Concertos was an instant success. Her performance is impressive: incisive, nuanced, and idiomatic. Her tone has an appealing warmth, but she remains true to the character of the music and doesn't lapse into Romantic tone quality or interpretations.
For those who already appreciate Rachel Podger's unique brand of magic I'll just say that this return to recorded Bach is lovely and all that one could hope for. All that one looks for is here, and there is more. For those who are not familiar with Rachel Podger, she is a unique voice among violinists. She has absorbed the principles of late Baroque performance practice and made them a part of herself, so that the articulation and inflection of that rhetorical approach to music flows from her as a natural idiom of expression.
Admittedly my early experience of these works was formed by the great Arthur Grumiaux' modern instrument versions, not with the ( to my ears over-romantic ) Solistes Romandes, but an earlier (I think) more incisive performance with the English Chamber Orchestra, very hard to track down, which is wonderful…
By rc_rc (Yorkshire, UK)
Carmignola’s fiery and successful “Vivaldi con moto” is followed by a more subtle and traditional Bach Concerto recording, a Co-Production between Deutsche Grammophon and Deutschlandfunk. Carmignola and Concerto Koln bring new and outstanding colors into this often recorded repertoire, and their temperamental performance introduces a sparkling and thrilling interpretation of Bach’s concertos. Carmignola is a unique artist and one of today’s most charismatic and captivating violinists, prompting The Strad to say “Timing is everything, and Carmignola has the timing of Sinatra. Rubato, portamento, pauses, tight-rope showmanship.” For the Double Concerto, Carmignola is joined by Mayumi Hirasaki on the first violin.
Bach's three well-known Violin Concertos are paired here with a splendid concerto for three violins, reconstructed from the surviving version for three harpsichords, BWV 1064. The composer's fascination with the Italian solo concerto, which resulted in numerous arrangements and compositions, dates to his second Weimar period from 1708 to 1717. However, current research has revealed that Bach wrote the violin concertos around 1720, during his engagement as Kapellmeister in Cöthen. On this recording, soloists Petra Mullejans, Gottfried von der Goltz, and Anne Katharina Schreiber are backed by the matchless Freiburger Barockorchester in dazzling readings of these evergreen favorites.
With this recording, Simon Standage becomes the first period violinist to record the Bach violin concertos twice, having previously done them with The English Concert back in 1983. Then, directed by Pinnock, he gave us startlingly quick outer movements sandwiching indulgently slow middle ones; the newer performances, which are under his own direction, adopt a less extreme approach to tempo, so we can perhaps assume that this is what he would have preferred all along. It is a more conventional view, certainly, but ultimately a more satisfying one.