BBC Music Magazine

Brisk, unsentimen­tal Bach proves a winning formula

The performanc­es of these arrangemen­ts and concertos are truly a cut above, says Jan Smaczny


JS Bach

Violin Concertos; Concerto for Two Violins; Trio Sonatas – in D minor, BWV 527; in C, BWV 529; Overture No. 2 in B minor; Sinfonias from Cantatas BWV 21, 174 & 182 Isabelle Faust (violin), Xenia Loeffler (oboe); Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/bernhard Forck Harmonia Mundi HMM 902335.36 143:48 mins (2 discs) This comprehens­ive collection of Bach’s music for concertant­e violin includes the two well-known concertos for violin in A minor and E major, and the D minor Double Concerto for two violins. They are joined by the C minor Double Concerto for violin and oboe – an arrangemen­t of a work that has come down to us in a version for two harpsichor­ds – and two other harpsichor­d concertos reworked for solo violin. The remaining items on this generously-filled two-disc set include sinfonias from cantatas featuring the violin and various reconstruc­tions, including an imaginativ­e recasting of the C major organ trio.

Throughout, the playing is of the highest order. Isabelle Faust is rightly celebrated for performanc­es of the Romantic repertoire, including one of the finest recordings of Dvoák’s Violin Concerto, but here she also excels. The tone is set in an arrangemen­t of the D minor Harpsichor­d Concerto: the tempo is brisk, but nowhere does it seem like an incoherent rush. Faust eschews grandstand­ing and plays it very much as an ensemble piece in harmony with the consistent­ly excellent Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin. Her tone is both lean and exquisitel­y sweet, combined with consistent stylistic elegance which reaches the heights of eloquence in the slow movement of the E major Concerto.

Among many other delights is the Sinfonia from Cantata 174, Bach’s own arrangemen­t of the first movement of the Third Brandenbur­g Concerto, with delicious horn punctuatio­n. A fleet-footed, unsentimen­tal reading of the much-loved Double Concerto crowns a sequence of field-leading performanc­es.



Isabelle Faust’s tone is both lean and exquisitel­y sweet

 ??  ?? A harmonious soloist: Isabelle Faust makes for a fine team player
A harmonious soloist: Isabelle Faust makes for a fine team player
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