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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto in A minor BWV 1041 (1717-23)
Violin Concerto in E major BWV 1042 (1717-23)
Violin Concerto in D minor BWV 1052 [reconstructed from lost Violin Concerto]
Violin Concerto in G minor BWV 1056 [transcribed from Harpsichord Concerto]
Concerto for three violins in D major BWV 1064 [original lost, reconstructed from keyboard]
Emmy Verhey (violin) with Camerata Antonio Lucio in all items except
Rainer Kussmaul, Henk Rubingh and Thomas Hengelbrock (violins) with the Amsterdam Bach Soloists in the Concerto for three violins
Recorded Amsterdam 1992 except the Concerto for three violins, recorded in Utrecht 1988


The Camerata Antonio Lucio chamber orchestra was founded in 1991 and has at its core musicians from Utrecht Conservatory. It’s coached and conducted by violinist Emmy Verhey though its leader is Chris Duindam. (The orchestra’s name? Vivaldi’s forenames.) Part of their proselytising mission is to work with young musicians and indeed the latest Dutch star, Janine Jansen, has performed with them frequently. One of Holland’s best-kept secrets, Emmy Verhey has been on the concert stage for forty years, and her recordings are scattered far and wide on a series of budget labels, too bewilderingly disparate to collate. I reviewed a performance of her Brahms’ Double with Janos Starker – not perfect but certainly deeply musical and admirable – and I’ve heard her Sibelius, which again I find strong and convincing and superior to many far better known and fêted recordings.

Here the Camerata and their coach emeritus turn to one of their core strengths, Bach, in what must have been one of their very first recordings. It’s a pity they don’t offer the Double – I’d like to have heard Verhey and Duindam, who also composes by the way and whose works the Camerata perform in concert. Nevertheless we get "the" A minor and "the" E major and then a trio of other concertos, one of which is played by the Amsterdam Bach Soloists. These are reconstructed Bach works and I’ve had to do some reconstructive surgery myself on Classic Collection’s information which is Spartan – there are no sleeve notes at all and the headings don’t delve into the specifics of the reconstructions (I’ve done my best to elucidate matters in my details).

Otherwise these are thoroughly engaging performances with no quirks. The chamber band sounds quite small – maybe fifteen strings or so – but not self-effacing. There’s a robust engagement with the opening movement of the A minor and a noble aloofness in its slow movement – if maybe the articulation can be a little clipped. Verhey maintains a fine balance between reserve and expressive commitment (as for example in the slow movement of the E major). Maybe the D minor concerto in its violin guise – much better known in its keyboard form – can drag a little, and I certainly felt it did in the Largo but there is real eloquence in the Andante of the G minor transcribed from the Harpsichord Concerto. The well-filled disc is rounded out with the three fiddle D major concerto once more transcribed from the far better known concerto for keyboard. The acoustic here is far more distant because the performance was taped in 1988. The trio of Kussmaul, Rubingh and Hengelbrock are at their most impressive in the central Adagio where their collective sensitivity pays rich dividends.

An attractively bright set of performances then at a disarmingly cheap price that catches one of the continent’s most youthful chamber orchestras in embryonic but attractive form.

Jonathan Woolf


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