JS Bach: Violin Concertos (2CD)

Harmonia Mundi
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Isabelle Faust, Xenia Loeffler, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Bernhard Forck

After the double album of the violin and harpsichord sonatas with Kristian Bezuidenhout, a bestseller in 2018, here is the next instalment in the Bach recording adventure that began nine years ago with a set of the sonatas and partitas now regarded as a benchmark. Isabelle Faust and Bernhard Forck and his partners at the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin have explored patiently a multitude of other works by Bach: harpsichord concertos, trio sonatas for organ, instrumental movements from sacred cantatas... All are revealed here as direct or indirect relatives of the three monumental concertos BWV 1041-43.

This fascinating achievement is a timely reminder that the master of The Well-Tempered Clavier was also a virtuoso violinist.

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Violin Concertos and Sinfonias 
Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo BWV 1052R (from the Harpsichord Concerto no. 1)
D minor / ré mineur / d-Moll
1 I. Allegro 
2 II. Adagio 
3 III. Allegro 
4 Sinfonia from the Cantata “Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte” BWV 174
for 2 horns, 2 oboes, oboe da caccia, 3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos and basso continuo
G major / Sol majeur / G-Dur

Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo BWV 1042
E major / Mi majeur / E-Dur
5 I. Allegro 
6 II. Adagio 
7 III. Allegro assai 
8 Sinfonia from the Cantata "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis" BWV 21
for oboe, 2 violins, viola and basso continuo
C minor / ut mineur / c-Moll
Adagio assai

Trio Sonata for 2 violins and basso continuo BWV 529
(from the Trio Sonata for organ no. 5)
C major / Ut majeur / C-Dur
9 I. Allegro 
10 II. Largo 
11 III. Allegro 
Isabelle Faust, Bernhard Forck, Raphael Alpermann 

Concerto for oboe, violin, strings and basso continuo BWV 1060 (hypothetical early version)
(from the Concerto for 2 harpsichords)
C minor / ut mineur / c-Moll
12 I. Allegro 
13 II. Largo ovvero Adagio 
14 III. Allegro 
Isabelle Faust, Xenia Löffler 


Violin Concertos and Sinfonias
Overture [Suite no. 2] BWV 1067 (hypothetical early version)
A minor / la mineur / a-Moll vérifier ton avec I. Faust
I. Ouverture 
II. Rondeau 
III. Sarabande 
IV. Bourrées I & II 
V. Polonaise. Moderato e staccato. Double 
VI. Menuet 
VII. Badinerie. Staccato 

Trio Sonata for oboe, violin and basso continuo BWV 527 (reconstruction)
(from the Trio Sonata for organ no.3)
D minor / ré mineur / d-Moll
I. Andante 
II. Adagio e dolce 
III. Vivace 
Isabelle Faust, Xenia Löffler, Jan Freiheit, Raphael Alpermann

Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo BWV 1056 (early version)
(from the Harpsichord Concerto no. 5)
G minor / sol mineur / g-Moll
I. [no tempo marking] 
II. Largo 
III. Presto 

Sonata from the Cantata "Himmelskönig, sei willkommen" BWV 182
for flute, violin, string and basso continuo
G major / Sol majeur / G-Dur
Grave. Adagio

Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo BWV 1041
A minor / la mineur / a-Moll
I. [no tempo marking] 
II. Andante 
III. Allegro assai 

Sinfonia BWV 1045 (from a lost Cantata)
for violin, 3 trumpets, 2 oboes, timpani, string and basso continuo
D major / Ré majeur / D-Dur

Concerto for 2 violins, strings and basso continuo BWV 1043
D minor / ré mineur / d-Moll
I. Vivace 
II. Largo ma non tanto 
III. Allegro 

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It is true that we live in a golden age of Bach performances, but even among those Isabelle Faust’s releases stand out. Bach clearly had an affinity with string instruments—he is known to have played violin and gamba—and Isabelle Faust has a flair for playing Bach. Her recordings of the Sonatas and Partitas (HMC902059 and HMC902124) are already regarded as “benchmarks” and after a CD of the Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas she now turns her attention to the three great Violin Concertos, BWV 1041-3, including the universally-loved Concerto for two violins in D minor. In addition to these core works Faust also presents on this double-CD a group of pieces that constellate round them, including the well-known B minor Orchestral Suite and D minor solo Violin Concerto BWV 1052, and a Concerto for Oboe and Violin, with Bach specialist Xenia Löffler on oboe. Indispensible.

- Chris Dench, The Classical Music Collector