JS Bach

BBC Music Magazine - - Concerto -

Con­cer­tos for 2 Harp­si­chords, BWV 1060-62; Pre­lude & Fugue in E flat, BWV552

Olivier Fortin, Em­manuel Franken­berg (harp­si­chord); En­sem­ble Masques

Al­pha Clas­sics AL­PHA 572 59:46 mins The three Con­cer­tos for two harp­si­chords and strings prob­a­bly date from the early 1730s when Bach had re­cently be­come di­rec­tor of the partly stu­dent, partly pro­fes­sional Col­legium Mu­sicum

at Leipzig. They may well have been in­cluded in the Col­legium’s con­cert pro­grammes, per­haps fea­tur­ing Bach’s two el­der sons as soloists.

The two D mi­nor Con­cer­tos are ar­range­ments of ear­lier works for vi­o­lin and oboe, BWV 1060, and for two vi­olins, BWV 1062. The C ma­jor Con­certo, BWV 1061, by con­trast seems to be an en­tirely orig­i­nal work, al­most cer­tainly in­tended by Bach ini­tially as a duo for two harp­si­chords with­out strings.

Olivier Fortin, Em­manuel Franken­burg and En­sem­ble Masques give warm-blooded per­for­mances of the mu­sic. Their ap­proach is stylish in mat­ters of or­na­ment and ar­tic­u­la­tion, and the per­va­sive fu­gal content is ar­gued clearly and au­thor­i­ta­tively. Each con­certo pos­sesses a no­tably lyri­cal mid­dle move­ment and the po­etry of each of these is al­lur­ingly re­alised by all con­cerned. It is, though, the con­clud­ing move­ments which fare best of all. The mu­si­cians in­ject an in­fec­tious rhyth­mic en­ergy into them, while pre­serv­ing a pel­lu­cid lin­ear clar­ity which high­lights those strands of the score too of­ten treated as mere fill­ing.

The re­main­ing item on the menu is a trans­la­tion for two solo harp­si­chords of the re­splen­dent or­gan Pre­lude and Fugue in E flat which frame the re­main­ing con­tents of Part Three (1739) of Bach’s Clavier-übung. I found my­self long­ing for the re­gal ra­di­ance of an or­gan in the Pre­lude, but the fivepart fugue is re­ward­ing for the light which the harp­si­chords shed on the coun­ter­point. Ni­cholas An­der­son PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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