Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Bach - Violin Concertos - Carmignola/Concerto Köln

Rating: 3/5

Fine solo work but disappointing orchestral playing

This is a slightly disappointing disc not because of Carmignola but because of the rather turgid and muddy ensemble playing of Concerto Köln.

There are lots and lots of recordings of these terrific works by Bach but I was looking forward to hearing Carmignola play them because he brings such zing and flair to everything he does. It's not always entirely appropriate (to me, anyway) but it's almost invariably entertaining and sometimes quite inspired. Here, he brings those characteristics to Bach and as a soloist he's pretty successful, I think. Technically, of course, he is superb and the slightly rumbustious feel works well much of the time. I find him less convincing in the slower movements, though, especially the sublime second movement of the double concerto. In the version by Andrew Manze and Rachel Podger, for example, there is a wonderful, sensuous feel as the lines twine around each other but that is wholly absent here and it all sounds just a little mechanical to me. On the other hand, I love his vigorous, almost joyous approach in the finale of BWV1041, in spite of its minor key and there are other terrific moments on the disc.

The real problem is Concerto Köln. They are a fine orchestra who here just sound rather mediocre, I'm afraid. The playing seems uninspired and the overall sound is turgid to the point where it almost seems to be dragging everything back at times. The contrast between this and, say, the playing of Brecon Baroque on Rachel Podger's two discs of Bach concertos is very marked and it really does mar the disc.

I am sorry to be critical, but I won't be going back to this very often. If you're looking for good recordings of Bach violin concertos I would recommend giving this a miss and trying Andrew Manze and Rachel Podger's disc J.S. Bach: Solo & Double Violin Concertos or either of Rachel Podger's recordings with Brecon Baroque:

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