JS Bach

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

Con­cer­tos for Or­gan and Strings; Sin­fo­nias from Can­tatas BWV 75 & 156

Bart Ja­cobs (or­gan); Les Muf­fatti Ramée RAM 1804 79:59 mins

Bach’s 1725 con­cert on the new Sil­ber­mann or­gan in Dres­den’s So­phienkirch­e at­tracted much lo­cal crit­i­cal ac­claim, par­tic­u­larly for the ‘var­i­ous con­cer­tos with sweet un­der­ly­ing in­stru­men­tal mu­sic.’ None of these sur­vive, but from the mists of Sax­ony, Bart Ja­cobs and Les Muf­fatti re­con­struct four con­cer­tos and three sin­fo­nias, en­tirely plau­si­ble can­di­dates for Bach’s im­pres­sive recital. Their ev­i­dence, from stylis­tic sim­i­lar­i­ties to manuscript­s with ev­i­dence of trans­po­si­tion and prece­dents in other con­cer­tos, is com­pelling and, post tac­ti­cal trans­po­si­tion, in­stru­ment sub­sti­tu­tion, and source amal­ga­ma­tion, the re­sults are al­lur­ing.

★ave no fear of ob­scure reper­toire though: clothed in dif­fer­ent keys and con­texts, pop­u­lar favourites just keep com­ing. Nat­u­rally move­ments from other key­board con­cer­tos, such as BWVS 1052, 1055 and 1058, con­vert well, as do sin­fo­nias from Can­tatas 169, 146 or 29 that al­ready fea­tured ob­bli­gato or­gan.

Given the lack of per­for­mance direc­tions on any ex­tant solo or­gan parts, it’s open game in choos­ing reg­is­tra­tion, man­u­als, or re­al­is­ing fig­ured bass. Bach may ac­tu­ally have known the Thomas Or­gan in the Church of Our Lady and St Leode­gar, Bornem and Ja­cobs makes full use of its trans­mis­sions, let­ting loose his creativ­ity and flair for colour across an ar­ray of stop com­bi­na­tions. ★is mel­liflu­ous lines have a vo­cal qual­ity and turn on a six­pence into vir­tu­osic ex­trav­a­gan­zas. Com­bined with the lush sounds of Les Muf­fatti, es­pe­cially en­hanced by re­tain­ing their harp­si­chord, grav­i­tas al­ter­nates with drive.

If I yearned for greater whimsy, dy­namic, or rhetor­i­cal vari­a­tion from the strings, es­pe­cially in ro­bust ri­tor­nel­los, these are cer­tainly en­er­getic and pre­cise per­for­mances. Han­nah French



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