This is the Definitive recording of these works. J. S. Bach is my favorite composer. I have heard lot of recordings of these works. Even with modern or period instruments this is the definitive recordings. 10/10 Highest points. The Sound is exelent. This is Bach worthy. The first nuber is for the playing/artists, the second is for the sound.
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I don't think the Bach harpsichord concertos are successful. That is, I don't think they are suitably 'performable' in any modern concert setting, in a hall with more than 50-100 seats, and even in a small space with superb acoustic, they are hopelessly imbalanced. They demand more from the harpsichord than any harpsichord can produce. They are conceptually premature, demanding a relationship between the solo keyboard and the chamber orchestra than might tend to justify playing them on a modern piano ... except that they then sound painfully unidiomatic. I've heard them many times, in many venues. I've more or less given up the expectation of being satisfied by them acoustically, even though I find them dazzling intellectually.
The curious thing is that, with good miking and a top-quality sound system fore and aft, they can sound better on a CD than in a live performance. That's the case with the two-CD recordings of them by Lars Ulrik Mortensen with his Concerto Copenhagen ensemble. The harpsichord is artificially prominent, veritably dominant. I'm too much a purist to be comfortable with that trickery, but I have to say that "it works" to the benefit of the music. This might well be the most plausible performance of the concertos available.
However, I'm not so enamoured of the orchestral sonority. It seems a little bumptious at times. Some of the tempi seem sluggish to me, on a subjective level, and some of the ritardandos seem overly manneristic. I've had these CDs for some time but I seldom play them. The motivation for this review is that I heard Mortensen play two of them live yesterday evening, with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Atherton CA.Read more ›
I was very pleased with Volume One Bach: Harpsichord Concertos, Vol. 1 in this series and now we have Volume Two. And it's just as elegantly and sensitively played as the first issue was. Lars Ulrik Mortensen is a fine harpsichordist and conductor. His long experience playing with renowned baroque groups certainly tells in this and the previous CD. Another thing I really like about this recording is that the sound of the harpsichord is not swallowed up in the body of the orchestral sound, as is so often the case, and yet the sound of the instrument does is not obviously amplified or recorded too closely. And the tonal quality of Mortensen's instrument is lovely -- none of that jangly sound one hears much to often in harpsichord recordings.
As for the works presented here we have four of Bach's concerti of which two are certainly among the most popular -- BWV 1056 in F Minor -- originally a violin concerto and with that absolutely gorgeous Largo movement which could almost be a soprano aria with its pure long melodic line and the gentle pizzicato string accompaniment -- and BWV 1057 -- better known in its version as the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto; here it is transposed down a full step and the Brandenburg's violin solo is here replaced by the harpsichord.
Concerto Copenhagen (or 'CoCo' as it is often called) is a group of young Danish baroque instrumentalists for whom Mortensen is the artistic director. They play elegantly and with real élan; this group does not play Bach in that too-familiar dead-baroque-composer style we hear too much of. This is living music played with brio.
Volume Two gets an enthusiastic recommendation.
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