One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Concerto for oboe, violin and strings, BWV1060R [12:59]
Violin Concerto No.2 in E, BWV1042 [15:52]
Cantata BWV21 Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis: Sinfonia [2:41]
Violin Concerto No.1 in a minor, BWV1041 [13:26]
Concerto for two violins in d minor, BWV1043 [14:31]
Cecilia Bernardini (violin), with Alfredo Bernardini (oboe, BWV1060R) and Huw Daniel (violin, BWV1043)
Dunedin Consort/John Butt
rec. Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, 17-20 November 2014. DDD/DSD
LINN CKD519 [59:29]

Reviewed as a download from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet).  Also available from linnrecords.com (as above plus 24/192 and SACD).

‘Bach Violin Concertos’ can mean many different things: in this case the two solo concertos and the double with the reconstructed violin-and-oboe version of BWV1060.  That’s a very different programme than, for example, on Alina Ibragimova’s recent recording with Arcangelo for Hyperion of the two conventional solo concertos plus plausible reconstructions of BWV1052, 1055 and 1056 (CDA68068 – review).  The Hyperion gives a slightly more generous coupling than the new Linn recording but it leaves you without the Double Concerto.  The Linn programme is more conventional: the classic Arthur Grumiaux recording, with Herman Krebbers in the Double Concerto and Heinz Holliger on BWV1060R, still a clear recommendation among modern-instrument versions, offers exactly the same programme.  (Decca 4207002, mid-price).

Among outstanding period-instrument versions Masaaki Suzuki, with soloists and the Bach Collegium of Japan also offers the same combination on a very fine recording (BIS-CD-961).

Cecilia Bernardini may be less famous than Alina Ibragimova.  She’s the leader of the Dunedin Consort and leads and directs other modern- and period-instrument groups, rather than a well-known soloist, but that’s not necessarily a disadvantage in performing the Bach concertos where the violinist is more a first among equals than a showy virtuoso.  I very much enjoyed hearing her contribution to this recording and I need hardly add that she receives first-rate support from John Butt and the other members of the Consort.

For a comparative version of BWV1041 I listened to the Grumiaux recording.  Surprisingly for a modern-instrument version first released on LP in 1978 there’s little to choose in terms of tempo and, more importantly, overall impression and communication between that and the new Linn recording.  Perhaps that’s partly due to the fact that another violinist, Arpad Gerecz, was directing and that the Solistes Romands, otherwise unrepresented in the current catalogue, rose to the occasion.  The sound is a little shrill – no match for the Linn – but otherwise it’s a credit to Bernardini and her supporters that she offers, if not quite a modern classic to sit beside the Grumiaux, something just as stylish.

The opening movement of BWV1060R starts in sprightly fashion without sounding breakneck: if anything both it and the adagio are taken slightly more steadily than on most recent recordings, such as Lars Ulrik Mortensen with Concerto Copenhagen (CPO).  The first movement is almost as slow as and the adagio slightly slower than the now classic Teldec recording which forms part of the USB complete Bach Edition (2564661127: Recording of the Month – review), still available and good value at around £165 for the equivalent of over 150 CDs.  Things have moved on since that older recording, one of the earliest on period instruments, was made and, good as it is and only seconds slower, it sounds a little four-square by comparison with the Edinburgh team.  Alfredo Bernardini in the oboe part also contributes in no small way to the success of the new performance.

The 1973 Teldec recording features Alice Harnoncourt as the violin soloist, with Jürg Schaeftlein (oboe), Walter Pfeiffer as second violinist in the Double Concerto and the Concentus Musicus directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.  The slight squareness of the opening of BWV1060R is compensated for by a brisk but affectionate account of the slow movement but the finale again shows signs of the Harnoncourt manner in a jaunty but slightly over-emphatic performance.  I know that many listeners dislike that manner but for me it’s a more than acceptable way of performing these concertos.  I still turn with enjoyment to these performances of BWV1041-3, though I can see why many are unable to take the heavy ‘bulges’ in the reconstructed BWV1056R which completes the programme.

Walter Pfeiffer is a very worthwhile second soloist on Teldec but Huw Daniel also gives a very fine performance on the new recording.  The classic account of the Double Concerto came from the Oistrakhs, father and son on DG, still available on Originals 4474272 (2 CDs), Regis RRC1408 – review – and even on vinyl (DG 4795117).  Their rapport is something very special but Bernardini and Daniel are hardly far behind.

On BIS, with Natsumi Wakamatsu supporting Ryo Terakado in the Double Concerto, the opening of the first movement sounds a little hurried at first but the pace soon settles down, though overall the tempo is a little faster than on Linn.  The second movement on BIS is a shade slow – leaning more to the largo marking than to the ma non tanto qualification.  I can’t complain when the result is so beautiful – more than usual this movement reminds me of the Handel ‘largo’ – but the new Linn seems to me to strike a more apt pace.  Much as I like the BIS recording, the Dunedin team seem to have the advantage.  Alice Harnoncourt and Walter Pfeiffer stress the largo even more at 7:06 (BIS 6:44; Linn 6:18).

If I say that Butt’s way with Bach is far less controversial than Harnoncourt’s, that should not be taken to mean that these performances are bland.  I’m slightly less bowled over than by his recordings of the Magnificat and Christmas Cantata (CKD469: Recording of the Month – reviewreview: also one of my Recordings of the Year), the b-minor Mass (CKD354 – Download Roundup July 2010) and the St John Passion (CKD419: Recording of the Month – review) but not by much.  The only reason why I have not considered this for Recording of the Month is that it doesn’t cast quite as much new light on the music as those earlier Linn releases or the new Brilliant Classics Vivaldi Op.8, a very special performance of The Four Seasons and the other concertos of Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’invenzione (95045, 2 CDs at super-budget price: Recording of the Month – review).

The Teldec recording (last seen on 8.44014) is no longer available separately, even as a download, but it does point up one shortcoming on the Linn recording, which runs for less than an hour as against 73 minutes for the Teldec.  That’s why I downloaded the new album in the 16-bit format, though I could easily have obtained the 24-bit as a review copy.  The 16-bit sounds fine and is reasonably priced at £10: £18.00 for the 24-bit does seem excessive when the equivalent SACD is likely to sell for £13 from Linn, or less from some dealers.  On past experience it should outshine even the 16-bit which I reviewed.

Grumbles about pricing apart, which affect only the download not the SACD equivalent, this is as good a way as any to get to know these wonderful concertos and a worthy successor to John Butt’s earlier recordings of Bach with the Dunedin Consort.  To prefer them overall to Masaaki Suzuki and his team on BIS and to Arthur Grumiaux on Decca, however slightly, is indeed high praise.

Brian Wilson

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger