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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Harpsichord Concertos Vol. 1

Concerto for harpsichord and strings, in D minor, BWV 1052
Concerto for harpsichord and strings, in D major, BWV 1054
Concerto for harpsichord and strings, in E major, BWV 1053
Concerto Copenhagen/Lars Ulrik Mortensen (music direction and harpsichord)
Rec. 19-21 May, 2002 at Mantzuisgarden, Birkerod. DDD
CPO 999 989-2 [55:57]


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Award-winning harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen as music director of the period instrument and authentic performance specialists Concerto Copenhagen has selected a small group of string players for this first volume of Bachís harpsichord concertos on CPO. From the ensembleís twenty musicians Mortensen utilises only twelve players in BWV 1052 and BWV 1054 and as few as seven players in BWV 1053.

Mortensenís 1984 Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen harpsichord has a most exquisite tone and is able to shine impressively though the light instrumentation without resorting to a forceful choice of stops. Consequently the ensemble can play unrestrained in tutti passages without ever swamping the soloist. The overall result is extremely successful and it is difficult to imagine that there isnít a far larger chamber orchestra in use. I guess that we have the superior quality of the instruments to thank together with the undoubted expertise of these highly accomplished period instrument players.

There is dignified solemnity about the BWV 1052 concerto which probably originates from a violin concerto now lost. The gifted Mortensen is especially effective in the intensive and often furious mood of the brilliant finale. The BWV 1053 concerto is also thought to be have its roots from a lost oboe or oboe díamore concerto. This is a bright and cheerful concerto and the soloist is most successful in conveying the thoughtful and tender restraint in the sicilienne. Mortensenís joie de vivre is remarkable and easily transmits the beauty of the expressive slow movement of the BWV concerto 1054; a transcription of the wonderfully melodic and extremely popular violin concerto BWV 1042.

It is hard to imagine better performances of these rewarding and appealing concertos. Everything about this CPO release is out of the top-drawer. Highly recommended.

Michael Cookson

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