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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor BWV 1052 [22:41]
Cantata, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen! BWV51 [18:45]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV1048 [11:43]
Suite No.3 for Orchestra in D major, BWV1068 [22:28]
Easter Oratorio; Adagio, BWV249 [4:47]
Speech by Spivakov [2:03]
Mikhail Pletnev (piano)
Araxia Davtian (soprano)
Bernard Soustrot (solo trumpet) and Vasily Kan, Konstantin Moskvin (trumpets)
Alexei Utkin (oboe)
Moscow Virtuosi/Vladimir Spivakov
rec. 1988, Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire
MELODIYA MELCD1002301 [41:26 + 41:08]

The concert preserved in this twofer was given on 28 December 1988 in Moscow and is released here for the first time. It was a charitable concert, a fundraising one to benefit families who had suffered in the devastating Armenian earthquake earlier in the year. Not inappropriately perhaps the programme was an all-Bach one.

The Moscow Virtuosi are directed by Vladimir Spivakov, who established the ensemble at the end of the 1970s, so by this time they’d had nearly a decade to develop. They are joined by Mikhail Pletnev for a performance of the Keyboard Concerto No.1 in D minor. The piano is over-recorded but Pletnev’s playing mixes directional assurance with much colouristic exploration in the slow movement. The finale is sinewy and strong. The applause has been excised. The first disc – both discs last 41 minutes and being 82 minutes or so in total it’s a shame they’re too long to have fitted onto just the one – concludes with the cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV51. This performance by the Armenian soprano Araxia Davtian is School of 1910-50. One appreciates the context of the concert but stylistically this is Battleship Bach of a kind thought extinct, Bach with Wagnerian heft and a vibrato to strip enamel. Stylistically macabre, it is also - if one is to be more specifically censorious – regrettably vocally self-satisfied. The trumpeter is Frenchman, Bernard Soustrot who is an artistic player but is given a kind of Double Concerto role.

One can just about hear the harpsichord continuo in the Brandenburg Concerto No.3 that opens the second disc but he is rightly spotlit in the transitional Adagio section where he takes a solo not wholly dissimilar to the way Karl Richter played this passage in his performances. The Suite No.3 is performed in a very Big Band kind of way, the harpsichord back to plink-plonking its way along. Spivakov then announces oboist Alexei Utkin for the brief but touching Adagio from the Easter Oratorio. The concert ends with Spivakov appealing for money for the relief fund.

As a souvenir of the concert this release has some validity but I can’t really work out any other market for this, I’m sorry to say.

Jonathan Woolf