> Bach, Vivaldi recital Zukerman [TB]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041
Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042
Violin Concerto in G minor, transcribed from Keyboard Concerto, BWV 1056
Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)

Violin Concerto in C major, RV187
Violin Concerto in D major, RV209

Pinchas Zukerman (violin), Jose-Luis Garcia (violin, Bach Double Concerto)
English Chamber Orchestra
Rec 1990 (Bach), 1992 (Vivaldi)
RCA Red Seal 74321 68002 [77.32]


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The collaboration of Pinchas Zukerman and the English Chamber Orchestra has yielded many rewarding recordings and concerts over the years, and it is good to have these ten-year-old performances back in the catalogue in this remastered edition. In addition to the 'standard' Bach violin concertos, he plays two less well known Vivaldi items which have also been less widely available previously; they were recorded in 1992, two years later than the Bach works, and issued separately.

Zukerman's approach in this repertoire is well known. He is stylistically aware but opts for 'modern' pitch and instruments rather than 'period'. The balances of the recordings tend to place him forward in the perspective, as so often in concerto recordings by star performers. Therefore the solo violin sometimes has a larger than life quality which is not entirely to the advantage of the music. The sound is good, however, and allows details to be heard as well as giving a rich, satisfying sonority in tuttis.

Tempi seem appropriately chosen throughout the collected concertos. The Double Concerto has a true partnership of equals thanks to the excellent playing of Jose-Luis Garcia, and the listener will be hard put to tell the two soloists apart. This is precisely how Bach would have wished it.

The generous programme allows for the inclusion of a transcribed concerto, one of those Bach probably wrote in Cöthen, but which was subsequently lost, having been arranged as a harpsichord concerto in the early 1730s for a performance at the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig. Zukerman's performance of this piece is particularly alert and enjoyable. It is always worth investigating Bach's different versions of the same piece, and this is highly entertaining.

In the company of Bach, the two little known Vivaldi concertos seem less inspired. They are still very skilful compositions, of course, but the inspiration seems on a lower level. The booklet gives useful information on all the music, but for some unaccountable reason is printed on patterned grey paper, rendering it more difficult to read than it would otherwise be.

Terry Barfoot

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