thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded
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Thomas ARNE (1710-1778)
Harpsichord Concerto No.5 in G Minor [10:44]
Sonata No.1 in F major [5:45]
Overture No.1 in E minor [7:36] Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Sinfonia in B flat major, Wq182 No.2 [10:28]
Variations on ‘Les Folies d’Espagne’ [7:44]
Harpsichord Concerto in C minor, Wq43 No.4 [11:48] Johann Christian BACH (1735-1782)
Harpsichord Concerto in A major, T297/I (ii) [19:30]
George Malcolm (harpsichord)
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
rec. 1967-68, Kingsway Hall, London ELOQUENCE 482 5117 [74:23]
The original LPs which have been decanted into this 74-minute CD were recorded between 1967-68 and released on Argo and Decca. Though not everything features George Malcolm the disc functions well as part of Eloquence’s centenary retrospective of his art, capturing as it does his work as a soloist with Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
The Arne and CPE Bach concertos, being rather more specialised material, appeared on Argo ZRG577 and as so often Malcolm played the Thomas Goff instrument with which he became so identified and of which – a rather spectacular, colour-saturated instrument – he was no notable an exponent, performing in an altogether freer and extrovert fashion than his contemporary Thurston Dart on his own Goff clavichord recordings. Malcolm’s passagework in the Arne sparkles, the slow movement is richly resonant and expressive, and the finale is graced by exciting soloing and sensitive, alert accompanying figures from Marriner and the Academy. Marriner ensures that the occasional democratic parcelling out of solo responsibilities in the CPE Bach are well balanced against the harpsichord. The Academy’s wind players are on especially deft form in the slow movement.
JC Bach’s own A major Concerto is even more ebullient and witty - and played on the very different sounding two-manual Goble harpsichord - the string players relishing the cantilena of the central movement, the harpsichord against pizzicato effects well judged by the balance engineer James Lock; Erik Smith was in charge of the production of this session. Some of the other items are making their first appearance on CD it would appear from Eloquence’s documentation. One such is Arne’s Sonata No.1 in F major (again played on the Goble) with its ebullient, very Scarlatti-like finale. Another is CPE Bach’s Variations on ‘Les Folies d’Espagne’ with exceptionally vertiginous dynamics, sonic colour and lashings of drama in both music and performance. Arne’s Overture No.1 has been reissued before but its gallant charm never palls whereas CPE Bach’s engaging Sinfonia is appearing on silver disc for the first time.
This is another thoughtfully compiled tribute, largely, to Malcolm that also salutes Marriner and his ensemble and reinforces critical admiration for the recordings they made together.
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