Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto No.2 in E, BWV1042 [17:11]
Violin Concerto No.1 in a minor, BWV1041 [14:33]
Partita No.2 in d minor, BWV1004 [32:04]
Daniel Lozakovich (violin)
Kammerorchester des Symphonieorchesters des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Radoslaw
rec. August Everding Saal, Musikschule Grünwald, October 2017 (concertos);
Teldex Studio, Berlin, November 2017 (BWV1004)
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4799372
This is not, as I at first thought, Daniel Lozakovich’s recording debut: at
the age of 15 he appeared in Bartók’s Duos, very ably partnering Daniel
Hope on the latter’s tribute to his mentor Yehudi Menuhin (DG 4795307).
Slightly confusingly, DG then spelled his name in the Swedish manner
Lozakovitj; he is, in fact, Swedish of Russian origin.
Whereas the independent labels introduce us to less familiar
music, often by neglected composers, the Universal group and DG in
particular have an excellent track record in introducing us to new, young
talent. And in Lozakovich they certainly have another major discovery on
their hands, someone who seems to have an instinctive feel for Bach.
My full review of another young performer’s Bach has been much delayed
because a serious back problem has prevented me from sitting long enough at
the computer to pull together all
my comments into a coherent review, though I have given it a strong
recommendation in one of my recent
Short Review round-ups.
I make no apology for repeating my recommendation of Konstantin
Volostnov’s 3-CD set of the organ Concertos, Sonatas and Toccatas, one disc for
each. (Melodiya MELCD1002523 – on CD from
Presto). In terms of Lozakovich's solo contribution, this DG release is further cause for
celebrating the prospects of the new generation of Bach performers.
With period-instrument performances of Bach almost de rigeur, could
this new recording be the answer for those seeking a recording on modern
instruments with a sense of period style in the manner of Neville
Marriner’s ground-breaking releases with the Academy of St Martin-in-the
Fields? Lozakovich plays a 1713 violin in modern tuning, and though Radoslaw
Szulc is listed as director, the notes imply that the soloist also directs
Yes and no. Let me say at once that this is a huge improvement on the
big-band Bach of the past and even on what once passed for stylish
chamber-scale Bach, such as I Musici’s recordings of the Violin Concertos.
I gave those to the charity shop years ago but you can still sample their
2-CD album containing the two solo violin concertos and the Brandenburg
Concertos by streaming from
Naxos Music Library.
The timings tell the story before you listen: 19:43 for the E-major and
15:44 for the a-minor.
Turn back to I Musici now and, though there are some nice touches, the
overall effect is lumpen. And yet, as recently as when their recordings,
with Messrs. Ayo and Michelucci were reissued on the Philips Universo label
in 1972, as fine a reviewer as Robert Layton was able to describe the
playing as setting ‘a steady measured pace [with] the finish one expects
from this celebrated ensemble’ and ‘never less than elegant’. That for a
recording of the opening allegro of the E-major which takes 9:20 and
now sounds really dragged out.
Even the classic recording of these concertos by Arthur Grumiaux, with
Hermann Krebbers in the double concerto and Heinz Holliger in BWV1060,
probably still the best of the traditional accounts, though the movement
sounds much livelier than I Musici, at 8:08, seems to drag a little by comparison with
more recent rivals (Philips 4207002, download or stream only).
Turn to the new DG recording of that movement and one enters another world.
At 7:49 this is not the speediest of recent recordings – mere seconds faster
than Grumiaux – but it has a momentum, a lift and a sparkle totally absent
from I Musici’s dutiful account.
So why am I not totally convinced? At 7:02, Alina Ibragimova with Arcangelo
and Jonathan Cohen (Hyperion CDA68068, BWV1041 and 1042 with three
reconstructed concertos –
is much lighter still, almost as different from the DG as that is from I
Musici and the difference, I believe, lies in the fact that Arcangelo are
accustomed to play as a chamber-scale unit, on both modern and period
instruments, whereas the Bavarian players are essentially a cut-down
version of a full-size symphony orchestra and don’t quite convey the
lightness of the best recent Bach recordings.
It’s not so much a matter of tempo: Cecilia Bernardini with the
Dunedin Consort directed by John Butt is mere seconds faster than the DG
team, at 7:40. Though less light-footed than Ibragimova and Arcangelo, and
sounding slightly sedate by direct comparison, this recording also benefits from the
Dunedin Consort working together regularly at this scale (Linn CKD519 –
Ultimately, then, I’d turn to one of the recordings that I’ve mentioned, or
to Rachel Podger with Brecon Baroque (Channel Classics CCSSA30910, SACD –
DL Roundup November 2011/1)
or Andrew Manze with the AAM (budget-price Harmonia Mundi HMA1957155 –
or Masaaki Suzuki’s Bach Collegium (BIS-CD-961) or Giulio Carmignola with
Concerto Köln (DG 4792695 –
in preference to the new DG where, for all its virtues, I found the
accompaniment a shade too heavy. That's just too many very fine
alternatives to give an unambiguous welcome to the new recording.
A further consideration concerns the sizeable filler. Where others offer the
double concerto – could Daniel Hope not have returned the favour of two
years ago and recorded the second part? – and/or some of the reconstructed
concertos, Daniel Lozakovich chooses to offer the Violin Partita No.2.
Beautifully as he performs this, though the style will not appeal to
outright period-performance purists, it comes from a different part of the
multi-faceted Bach world and may not gel with those who enjoy the more
immediately appealing concertos. Certainly, it seems to me wrong to place
it after the concertos, but then the logic of the placing of works within
an album often eludes me. Perhaps it would have been better between the two
concertos – or, better still, left for the complete recording of the Bach violin
sonatas and partitas that I hope Lozakovich will give us in due course.
I have judged these well-recorded performances by the highest standards.
Taken on their own, they are enjoyable and prospective purchasers with
access to Naxos Music Library should sample them
That also includes a pdf version of the booklet which, as is the case far
too often now, is all about the performer and not at all about the music.
Most of the recordings that I’ve mentioned tell us the number of
performers, for example, information which would have been welcome in
determining just how much the Chamber Orchestra is reduced in size from its Bavarian Radio
These are enjoyable performances from a soloist with a
fine future, but the accompaniment is
slightly less convincing.