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Violin Concerto in A minor
Violin Concerto in E major
Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor
Concerto for Violin & Oboe in C minor

Kennedy (Nigel); Albrecht Mayer (oboe); Daniel Stabrawa (violin)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
 EMI CDC5 57019-2 [59 minutes]

There is no question that Kennedy believes Bach is the greatest of composers. He has said so when giving his inimitable introductions to encore items at concerts, and his commitment to Bach's cause is the foundation upon which these recorded performances is based.

Bach is the most indestructible of composers, and only die-hard 'original instrument' purists would reject the virtuoso, big-boned style of these performances. The virtuosity is apparent throughout, both of the soloist(s) and of course the orchestra. But it is virtuosity in the service of Bach, not virtuosity for its own sake. Tempi are direct and quick, but articulation remains clear, so that details are projected. The fine balancing of textures allows for details to be heard in fully scored passages too.

With the resonant properties of this ensemble, it is no surprise that broad tempi prevail in the slow movements. Phrasing is sensitively done, and there is close adherence to dynamic shadings. The pianissimo playing is beautifully sensitive.

The two double concertos are true partnerships; in neither case does one sense rivalry between the players. Such an approach would be inappropriate in Bach, to whom Kennedy and his colleagues pay splendid treatment in this fine compilation.

Terry Barfoot

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