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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C, BWV1066 [18:59]
Violin Concerto in E, BWV1042 [17:30]
Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, Air [4:12]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Divertimento in D, K205 [15:54]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 6 in D, Hob.1:6 (Le Matin) [17:07]
Bach Orchestra of the Leipzig Gewandhaus / Gerhard Bosse
rec. live, Camden Theatre, London, October 1966
ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD8/2009 [73:44]

This CD is of particular significance because the orchestra rarely appears under this name nowadays. Indeed, I cannot find any mention of them anywhere. Essentially, we have members of the Gewandhaus Orchestra who get together periodically to play baroque music. Their founder, Gerhard Bosse, who died in Japan just a few years ago, was an important figure in the Gewandhaus. He served for many years both in the rank and file and as Concertmaster. He also performed as part of the famous Gewandhaus String Quartet. To add to his achievements, in 1963 he formed this subgroup of his colleagues specifically to perform earlier music. They do not use period instruments but do conform to period practice as far as they can. When this concert took place in 1966, they were only in their third year of performing together. With ears coloured by the period orchestras of the current age, especially the leading German group, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, the performance style still sounds distinctly old-fashioned, with some lugubriously slow tempi particularly in the Bach Suite No. 1. Overall I feel they are at their most attractive in the early Haydn Symphony Le Matin, which they dispatch with considerable brio as well as beauty of sound. Bosse himself plays the solo part in Bach's great Concerto BWV1042 and, excess vibrato apart, it is lovely to hear. Bosse did not continue with the group beyond the 1980s. They are now active under another prestigious Leipzig musician Christian Funke. I say 'active' but have failed to find evidence more recent than 2014.

This recording, made at the Camden Theatre, a venue used for years by the BBC as a radio studio, is clear and well spread left to right, simply reproducing the sound as heard from the centre of the stalls. The venue still exists under the name of 'Koko' but some idea of the original auditorium can be obtained from photographs on the Arthur Lloyd website. This goes some way toward explaining the slightly enclosed sound that the microphones receive. It is all very real and, as a record of past performance style, it is of considerable interest. The audience are fairly restrained during the music and greet the concert with justified enthusiasm.

Dave Billinge



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