Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Bach - Concertos for Two Harpsichords - Suzuki

Rating: 3/5

Not really for me

I'm afraid this disc didn't really work for me.  I'm sorry to say it because I greatly admire many of Suzuki's Bach recordings, but I don't think these arrangements really work that well.

Suzuki has included three well-known concertos for two harpsichords, and has arranged the First Orchestral Suite for two harpsichords alone.  The outer two works are Bach's transcriptions of the Double Violin Concerto and the Concerto for Violin and Oboe and although it is almost sacrilegious to say this of Bach, I'm afraid I think they lose a lot in translation.  That sublime slow movement from the Double Violin Concerto loses much of its sensuous grace as the violins twine around each other, and the vigorous, toe-tapping finale of the Violin and Oboe Concerto doesn't quite have the right pace and zing when played on harpsichords.  With both concertos I find I'm straining to pick the sense of the piece out of the rather generalised sound of the harpsichords and I also find that the Orchestral Suite, although perfectly listenable, loses a lot of its interest and character when its orchestral colour is removed.

This is just a personal response and you may, of course, disagree entirely.  The musicianship is excellent (of course), the recorded sound is good and, to be fair, this version of the concerto BWV1061 is very good.  For me, though, this is of interest rather than a disc to be enjoyed and listened to repeatedly, and I can only give it a very qualified recommendation.

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