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Concertos for Harpsichord and Strings Vol. 2
Concerto in A major BWV 1055 [13:27]
Concerto in f minor BWV 1056 [8:38]
Concerto in F major BWV 1057 [14:47]
Concerto in g minor BWV 1058 [11:34]
Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord, director)
rec. 17-20 January 2005, The Garrisson Church, Copenhagen.
second volume of harpsichord concertos recorded by Lars Ulrik
Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen proves itself as an extremely
worthy competitor in its field (see review
of volume 1).
From the opening bars of the A major concerto BWV 1055 (the first
on this disc), the striking vibrancy of both the performance
and the recorded sound is instantly evident, which continues
throughout the whole of this fine recording.
contrast with a number of alternative recordings of this
music – as well as other recordings of early music that shares
similar resources – the overall balance of the solo harpsichord
and the strings is particularly effective. Among the credible
alternatives – such as the much-lauded 2-disc set by Richard
Egarr, Andrew Manze and the Academy of Ancient Music on Harmonia
Mundi – extremely musical and committed performances can
often seem a little disappointing, with the harpsichord appearing
as something of a background ‘dressing’ in the overall mix.
On this occasion, however, all credit to the recording engineers
who have gained a good deal of depth from each of the players,
while leaving the harpsichord particularly forward and present,
as well as garnering a predominantly rich sound from the
solo recorders of the F major concerto BWV 1057.
the four harpsichord concertos on this disc at least three
were arrangements of concertos for other instruments, the
most well-known of these alternative versions being the Concerto
in F major BWV 1057, which is more recognisable as Bach’s
fourth Brandenburg Concerto. Here the harpsichord replaces
the solo violin alongside the two recorders, with many florid
additions for the keyboard player. The efficiency and skill
of Bach’s own arrangements could allow one easily to be duped
into imagining that these versions for harpsichord were the
original intentions of the composer.
particular highlight of this disc, however, has to be the
dramatic fervour and tension depicted in the Concerto in
f minor BWV 1056. Easily the most compact work of the recording,
and originally a concerto for solo violin, the near-theatrical
urgency of the two outer movements is amusingly interrupted
by a nonchalantly lyrical second movement – a contrast admirably
heightened on this recording.
Copenhagen are exceptional as a close unit and are highly
capable of being both impulsive and measured in equal amounts,
whilst offering detailed, stylistic and musical representations
of this repertoire. Lars Ulrik Mortensen leads the group
from the harpsichord with an easy confidence. Frequent variations
in his articulation allow pertinent points within the score
ample space to breathe – predominantly within the quicker
movements where the pace can indubitably become relentless.
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