A disc of oboe concertos
by J.S. Bach seems an attractive prospect.
Not that Bach wrote any oboe concertos;
these are essentially transcriptions
of keyboard concertos. Only the double
concerto for oboe and violin is well
known in this format. Although the surviving
score is for two keyboards, there seem
to be more recordings available in the
oboe/violin version. Some of these are
played in the key of D minor but here
it is given in the original C minor.
The concertos BWV 1055 and 1056 are
usually known as keyboard concertos
numbers 4 and 5, the latter transposed
up a tone from the original F minor.
Regarding the concerto derived from
BWV49 and BWV169, I have been unable
to find out anything about its origins.
Therein lies my one significant gripe
about this disc; the documentation is
very thin indeed, consisting mostly
of a short essay speculating that these
concertos might have originally been
written for the oboe. Specific information
on what is known about the origins of
the works and who transcribed them is
lacking. Furthermore there is no information
about the [period] instruments used
and it is not even made clear whether
BWV 1055 is actually played on an oboe
d’amore (although, if you are prepared
to rely on my ears, it is).
Listening to the disc
is a much better experience. Camarata
Köln are a period band and they
are well in their element. The recorded
sound is pleasingly natural and Hans-Peter
Westermann is an excellent soloist,
his playing both alert and mellifluous.
In the double concerto Mary Utiger’s
contribution is well-judged and there
is good rapport between the soloists.
The finale bounces along spiritedly
and is particularly successful.
This disc seems to
be a mid-price reissue but there is
some competition around (which I haven’t
heard), for example on Naxos. If your
sole criterion for judging a disc is
based on what comes in through your
ears, then this is worth considering.
If you also expect to be able to read
about what is going on then I suggest
Patrick C Waller