bach concertos FR1803

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV1041 [15:49]
Violin Concerto in E, BWV1042 [20:10]
Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV1043 [18:16]
Suzanne Lautenbacher (violin)
Dieter Vorholz (violin: BWV1043)
Mainz Chamber Orchestra/Günter Kehr
rec. c. 1960

I seem to recall that Susanne Lautenbacher’s recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, with the Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra under Jörg Faerber, was one of the first LPs I ever bought back in the 1960s. I still remember the vibrant yellow cover featuring a stained glass window of that Turnabout LP.

Born April 19, 1932, in Augsburg, Germany, Lautenbacher studied violin with Karl Freund (first violin of the Freund Quartet) in Munich, then privately with Henryk Szeryng. She became one of the pioneering interpreters of Baroque violin music, and her 1962 recording of Biber's Mystery Sonatas is still highly regarded today. Although associated with the post-World War II early music movement, she played a modern violin. She was never signed up for one of the major labels, but made a substantial number of recordings for Vox, Turnabout, Intercord, Bärenreiter-Musicaphon and Bayer. These Bach Violin Concertos, now released on silver disc by Forgotten Records, made their initial appearance on Vox in the early 1960s.

What immediately strikes one when listening to these performances is the stylish playing of Lautenbacher. Tempos in each of the three concertos are nicely judged, and the dynamic range has sufficient breadth. In the two solo concertos, the slow movements fare particularly well. Lautenbacher’s warm tone and expressive phrasing ensures rapt and beguiling accounts. Intonation is always reliable. The Concerto for Two Violins communicates as a dialogue between two equal partners, with the soloists well-matched in tone and phrasing. The slow movement is glorious in its soulful expression.  Günter Kehr is a sympathetic partner, and his orchestral accompanying is lively and engaging in the concertos’ outer movements, whilst remaining sensitive and nuanced in the central slow movements.

These inspired performances have been splendidly restored and re-energized from pristine copies of the original Vox LPs, and certainly make for rewarding listening. There are no booklet notes accompanying this release.

Stephen Greenbank