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Bach, J.S.: Violin Concertos Import

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Bach's three well-known Violin Concertos are paired here with a splendid concerto for three violins, reconstructed from the surviving version for three harpsichords, BWV 1064. The composer's fascination with the Italian solo concerto, which resulted in numerous arrangements and compositions, dates to his second Weimar period from 1708 to 1717. However, current research has revealed that Bach wrote the violin concertos around 1720, during his engagement as Kapellmeister in Cöthen. On this recording, soloists Petra Mullejans, Gottfried von der Goltz, and Anne Katharina Schreiber are backed by the matchless Freiburger Barockorchester in dazzling readings of these evergreen favorites.
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Product Details

  • Performer: Petra Mullejans, Gottfried von der Goltz, Anne Katharina Schreiber
  • Orchestra: Freiburger Barockorchester
  • Conductor: Petra Mullejans, Gottfried von der Goltz
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (April 9, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: HARMONIA MUNDI
  • ASIN: B00A6U5BDK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,343 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By JB on April 13, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Yet another recording of the Bach violin concertos? Why? After all, we've got plenty to choose from, both on period and modern instruments, many with top-flight soloists in the leading roles: Hilary Hahn, Nigel Kennedy, Menuhin...take your pick.

It doesn't take long into this recording for the listener to understand the answer to the above question: contained here are new and at times revelatory readings of these works. It really feels as though the Freiburgers have absorbed both period and modern concepts of playing and emerged the other side, giving us the best of both in performances which above all let the music speak for itself.

The two soloists (three in BWV1064R) are full-time members of the band, and this is most apparent in the synthesis of solo and ensemble lines: there are no stars here apart from Bach himself. In the faster movements the instruments rebound off each other, the rhythmic elasticity creating an energy which brings a reminder that we're never far from the spirit of the dance.

Gottfried von der Goltz and Petra Müllejans are the soloists in the Double Concerto, alternating for the E major (von der Goltz) and the A minor (Müllejans). They have distinctive and very different qualities, with Müllejans soaring, silvery and aerial whilst von der Goltz is intriguingly bucolic, with a more earthy but equally compelling tone. In the Concerto for Three Violins they are joined by Anna Katharina Schreiber in a work normally heard in its version for three harpsichords.

Did we need another recording? A resounding Yes. An outstanding release.
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Format: Audio CD
Harmonia Mundi is not satisfied in having just one survey of Bach's violin concerti with Andrew Manze, Rachel Podger and The Academy of Ancient Music (a very fine recording). It has now released this violin concerti survey with Freiburger Barockorchester, Petra Müllejans and Gottfried von der Goltz, violins and direction and guest Anne Katharina Schreiber.

The quality of recording is excellent in that the violins - whether in the concertos for one violin, two violins or three violins - is so seamlessly interwoven with the ensemble that the effect is one of immaculate precision and yet passionately beautiful. Probably written for the virtuoso Kapelle at Cöthen (BWV 1042) or the concerts of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum which the composer often directed himself from the violin, Bach's three well-known violin concertos are joined here by the splendid Concerto for three violins BWV 1064, reconstructed from the surviving version for three harpsichords. A dazzling firework display under the bows of the matchless violinists of the Freiburger Barockorchester!

For those not yet familiar with the ensemble, the Freiburger Barockorchester (Freiburg Baroque Orchestra) is a German orchestra founded in 1987, with the mission statement: "to enliven the world of Baroque music with new sounds".

The works are as listed:

Concerto for two violins BWV 1043 in D Minor with Gottfried von der Goltz and Petra Müllejans
Violin Concerto BWV 1042 in E Major with Gottfried von der Goltz
Violin Concerto BWV 1041 in A Minor with Petra Müllejans
Concerto for three violins BWV 1064R in D Major with Gottfried von der Goltz, Anne Katharina Schreiber and Petra Müllejans

This is elegant and eloquent period Bach in the hands of master musicians. It is a full-bodied, rich set of performances and will compete with any on record. Grady Harp, May 13
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Format: Audio CD
This is an excellent recording of the Bach Violin Concertos, and well worth its place alongside the best which are available. There is a very good review here by JB, and although I think I would stop short of "revelatory," I agree wholeheartedly with him about the quality of this disc and have only a couple of things to add.

The Concerto for Three Violins is a more rarely recorded piece than the others, being reconstructed from the of the Concerto for Three Harpsichords BWV1064. I always find the harpsichord version enjoyable but a bit of an indistinct jangle from the solo instruments, and it is a real pleasure to hear distinct solo lines from the violins. It is very well done, and almost certainly a version of the work which Bach himself wrote but which has been lost.

Oddly, I have only recently come across an identical programme to this disc recorded in 1999 by Simon Standage and Colleguim Musicum 90 Bach: Violin Concertos. (Honestly, you wait ages for a violin version of the Concerto For Three harpsichords, and then two come along at once...). This recording by von der Goltz and the Freiburger Baroque Orchestra is perhaps a little brisker and springier of step, while the Standage disc has a slightly warmer, more restrained feel, but both discs are excellent and it's a matter of taste which one you might prefer. (For what it's worth, I love both but probably just prefer this one on balance.)

It was the Freiburgers' excellent disc of Bach Overtures/Suites J.S. Bach: Ouverturen / Complete Orchestral Suites (GRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER 2012) which encouraged me to try this and I wasn't disappointed. It's just as good and very warmly recommended.
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