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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1739)
Concerto in F minor for Oboe and Strings, after BWV 169/49 [18.15]
Double Concerto in C major for Oboe and Violin and Strings, after BWV 1055 [13.32]
Concerto in A minor for Oboe and Strings, after BWV 1055 [14.23]
Concerto for G major Oboe and Strings, after BWV 1041 (BWV 1058) [13.29]
Concerto movement in D major for Oboe and Strings, after BWV 35 [5.53]
Concerto in G major for Oboe and Strings, after BWV 1065 [9.42]
Burkhard Glaetzner (oboe and direction)
Andreas  Hartmann (violin)
Mitteldeutscher Bach Konvent
rec. 10-13 April, 19-21 June 2006, Orchestersaal Augustusplatz Leipzig.
BERLIN CLASSICS 0016092BC [75.19]



18th century commentators refer to Bach’s concertos for diverse instruments but all that has come down to us are the violin concertos and harpsichord concertos. Ironically, one of Bach’s most commonly used obbligato instruments was the oboe, so it is tempting for practitioners to ascribe some of these missing concertos to the oboe.
 
Of course, not all the concertos are quite missing. Bach was a great re-user so that a concerto in E flat (or F) for oboe (or perhaps viola) was re-used in his cantatas BWV169 and BWV49 and re-written for harpsichord in BWV1053. In this way the original concerto can be re-constructed with some confidence. On stylistic grounds, this concerto was probably written in the earlier part of his Leipzig period.
 
On this new disc, distinguished German oboist Burkhard Glaetzner plays five conjectural re-constructions, plus the double concerto. Though I have described the concerti as conjectural, this should not worry us unduly. Bach re-arranged Vivaldi concertos for new forces and was, as we have seen, a re-user of his own music. So the adaptations necessary to create these concertos would not have worried him.
 
My only complaint, is that the extensive CD booklet does not seem to credit who did the adaptations in the first place.
 
The double concerto for Violin and Oboe, BWV1060, has long been in existence based on its surviving incarnation for two harpsichords. This harpsichord version was created in the mid-1730s for his Collegium Musicum; a group who practised on the premises of café owner Gottfried Zimmerman and for whom Bach made many of his harpsichord concerto transcriptions.
 
Harpsichord concerto BWV1055 was created slightly later, but the surviving parts indicate that the work was based on a lost original in the same key. The instrument in question was probably an oboe d’amore, an instrument newly invented in the 1720s. There is good reason to think that the concerto was originally composed in the 1720s for the new instrument.
 
Bach’s own Violin concerto BWV 1041 also exists in a transcription for harpsichord, so we can forgive Glaetzner for appropriating it for oboe as well.
 
For the next concerto, only the opening movement survives, in a version for obbligato organ. The remaining movements are conjectural and are not included here.
 
The final concerto is based on the harpsichord concerto BWV1056, again a work where concurrency can be shown with various other of Bach’s works.
 
Glaetzner is accompanied by the MittelDeutscher Bach Konvent with a string group of some thirteen players. Glaetzner has an admirably warm sound with a good flexibility in playing Bach’s solo lines. He also doubles as director.
 
Occasionally speeds are a little fast. I felt that the opening movement of BWV 1055 was rather gabbled. But technically, Glaetzmer the oboist has no problems with the speeds set by Glaetzner the director.
 
Playing on what sound to be modern instruments, the Mitteldeutscher Bach Konvent make a strong sound but prove fine accompanists. The performance is, to some extent, period aware. The string sound in particular is crisp and lively, with none of the luxuriance and over-reliance on vibrato which comes with some older performances.
 
I enjoyed this disc, despite being a convinced lover of the sound of the baroque oboe. Glaetzner’s intelligence and technique make a good case for these pieces, even when you are aware of more well known versions in the background.
 
The disc includes an informative article by Manfred Fechner which explores the origins of the various concertos.
 
This is probably not a library choice, but certainly should be a disc that anyone with an interest in Bach’s concertos should explore.
 
Robert Hugill
 



 


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