Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin J.S. BACH Violin Concerto BWV 1052 - Double Concertos
This disc by the ever-outstanding Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin, features "alternate universe" Johann Sebastian Bach concertos and includes a wholly new reconstruction of the Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052R, by the Akademie's concertmaster Midori Seiler. Whereas earlier reconstructions, of which there are several, used Bach's own harpsichord arrangement of the now-lost violin original, as her point of departure Seiler has pressed into service Bach "Son Number 2's" slightly earlier harpsichord arrangement of about 1734. Ironically, the younger Bach's ineptitude in converting the violin part into an effective keyboard solo has, for Seiler, provided additional clues to its true nature. Certainly this is a very effective rendering of what Bach's original might have sounded like, and Seiler's own performance of the solo part is a passionate and winning outing that will make one forget about such messy editorial details.
Three other transcribed Bach concerti fill out the program; Bach's own arrangements of the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto (as BWV 1057), the "double" violin concerto for two harpsichords (BWV 1062), and the reconstructed Concerto for violin and oboe, BWV 1060R, heard in C minor here rather than D minor as is sometimes done. Of these, BWV 1057 seems the least successful, and that's just by virtue of the first-movement Allegro being as brisk as it is -- the tempo is so breathlessly zippy that it doesn't seem to give the music time to breathe, and sometimes the low instruments seem challenged in keeping up with the pace. Nevertheless, that's the only complaint; otherwise, Harmonia Mundi's Violin Concerto, BWV 1052, is about everything one could want from a disc of reconstructed concerti played by a period ensemble -- the sound is great and the performances are of such a high standard that it even puts the famous Neville Marriner recordings of similar Bach reconstructions on the defensive. (Uncle Dave Lewis)