Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750): Violin Concertos. Performed by Jaap Schröder, Christopher Hirons and the Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Christopher Hogwood. Recording made in 1981 or 1982 and released in 1982 as L'Oiseau-Lyre 400 080-2. Total playing time: 44'34".
I own four "historically informed" recordings of Bach's beautiful violin concertos, and I would like to contrast and compare them here. For want of a better method I will take them in chronological order.
The oldest is the L'Oiseau-Lyre CD of this repertoire made in 1981 or 1982 by Jaap Schröder with Christopher Hirons as second violin and accompanied by a group of musicians from the Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Christopher Hogwood. In addition to its glorious Decca engineering, this CD has the advantage of a fairly small group of players (string distribution 3-3-2-2-1), making for great transparency of sound. Jaap Schröder takes the concertos with wonderful lightness of touch and a relaxed feel about his playing, stressing the dance-like rhythms in Bach's music. The solo violin (violins on the double concerto) are placed in the foreground, and the bass line is not so heavy as on some of the other recordings. In the Double Concerto, Christopher Hogwood replaces the harpsichord with a chamber organ, which, if you listen carefully, seems to me to be ideal and to give the concerto just the right "feeling". This is a grandiose piece of musicianship!
This CD was recorded some twenty (20) years ago, but I believe the performance level is still among the best ones. Jaap Schroeder's violin performance is crisp, lucid and elegant. It is indeed a shame this magnificent CD is no longer in production.
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Back when LPs were king, violin soloists and orchestras released recordings of three of J.S. Bach's violin concertos in a, E, and the double concerto in d. Back in the early 80s, the violinist Jaap Schroeder produced a series of recordings with the Academy of Ancient Music, lead by Christopher Hogwood. This recording offers the "traditional" three concertos, coming in at a rather short 49 minutes.
Hogwood's conducting is almost always controlled, measured, and precise. Tempos are slower than some of the more recent versions (especially Lara St. John's), but faster than, say the earlier (1967) extremely relaxed Harnoncourt version.
Schroeder has had a mixed career, especially with Bach. His recording of the unaccompanied sonatas and partitas suffered from major intonation issues any time there were double or triple stops. His work with the modern instrument ensemble, the Concerto Amsterdam, was quite good, with Schroeder displaying a style of winsome playing, and a superb sense of phrasing.
Here Schroeder plays a baroque violin. Intonation is good, the phrasing is impeccable, and the bowing is a bit scratchy. The interplay between soloist and orchestra is excellent. The A minor comes close to my favorite rendition (Harnoncort's), the E major has Schroeder at his winsome best, alternating singing lines with leaps up and down the scale.
Schroeder joins Christopher Hirons in the D minor concerto. If anything Hirons is technically the better player. Another interesting fact: The concertmistress in this recording is Monica Huggett, who is a better violinist than either of them.
Never-the-less, this is a very pleasing recording, well balanced, and always worth yet another listen.
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