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Harpsichord Concertos

Johann Sebastian Bach Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 16.80 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JS Bach harpsichord concertos Aug. 13 2010
By r.b. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Ottavio Dantone is now a well known Baroque specialist and with his ensemble Accademia Bizantina,gives us 4 wonderful Bach harpsichord concertos(bwv1052,1053,1055 and 1056)performed with one player to a part.This is almost certainly how Bach himself would have performed them in Leipzig in the 1730's when he transcribed these works from their (now sadly lost) original violin or oboe versions which he composed at Cothen during 1717-1723.

Dantone and his 5 string players execute these compositions with tremendous skill and adopt tempo's that seem to fit the music well - lively and spirited in the allegro's with the slow movements relaxed and allowed to breathe.They are also extremely well recorded by the sound engineers and this must surely be one of the finest recommendations for a disc of Bach harpsichord concertos performed on period instruments.Trevor Pinnock's complete English Concert recording's from 1979-1981 also still hold up very well although they are not performed with one string player to a part.

As you have gathered i disagree with the other reviewer above -this disc of 4 Bach harpsichord concertos from Dantone and his ensemble is excellent in every way and certainly the best i have heard since Trevor Pinnock's recording's which are now 30 years old.

Listen and judge for yourself!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous Interplay May 14 2013
By Peter Besenbruch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is a collection of four solo harpsichord concerti that weren't obviously borrowed from other pieces. Ottavio Dantone is a very good keyboardist, if not quite in Leonhardt's league. Frankly, I would not buy this for the quality of the harpsichord playing. Buy it for the absolutely peerless ensemble work, and because Dantone and the Accademia Bizantina "gets" Bach.

The pieces are recorded with one instrument per part. It's hard to make that sound good. Not only does the ensemble bring it off flawlessly, but you become aware that Dantone has spend a lot of time thinking through the group's phrasing in every movement. Good soloists are a dime a dozen (yes, I know they put in vast amounts of work), but this level of ensemble playing is extraordinary.

Finally, I got to know the Accademia Bizantina first through their wonderful Vivaldi, Opus 8 recording. Lots of Italian groups play Vivaldi, and they do a great job. Then I saw that Dantone's group did Purcell's complete Fairy Queen. Dantone conducted, and they produced a wonderful, very English, recording. Then there was the scintillating Bach Sinfonias recording.

Dantone is that rarest of creatures, a man who can work with, understand, and convey to his co-musicians a variety of styles and composers. Currently, he does this better than anyone else.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crystal Clear Performance With Nowhere to Go Dec 3 2009
By M. Figg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Ottavio Dantone is the harpsichord soloist with one string player per part in the orchestra, so what you get is essentially a string quintet with keyboard soloist/continuo. On first listening to this disc, I was struck by the clarity this brought to the musical whole. Period instruments are known for allowing greater transparency in orchestral textures, and the smaller forces allowed me to zero in on each individual part of Bach's polyphonic whole. With heavily contrapuntal music this is especially useful, as it makes sure the composition never congeals into a dense, inundating soup.

It was an initially refreshing experience of Bach, yet as I kept listening I noticed a gradual slackening of the rhythm. In addition to textural clarity, Bach's music also requires a certain rhythmic lilt, almost "swing" so that the voices don't just blend together but seem to "dance" in violinist Hilary Hahn's words. I can't tell if Dantone takes this too literally or not enough, yet I noticed that the harpsichord solos seemed to take liberties with the pulse that may have been intended for dramatic effect, but instead seemed to only detract from the overall drive of the performance. When the orchestral tutti reappear this rhythmic slackening is felt even more.

In the more lyrical slow movements this "mannered" approach to meter becomes more of an asset, lending an intimate, smokey feeling to these sections that reminds the listener of this music's origins at the Café Zimmerman; truly some Baroque era café Jazz! The tick-tock melody of the A Major/BWV 1055 concerto is the most successful complete work, but Dantone's handling of the famous, intense, proto-Romantic D minor concerto is incredibly disappointing, like a train whose engines you can feel revving with no acceleration.

For the sake of comparison, Rinaldo Alessandrini as soloist and conductor with the Concerto Italiano orchestra remains my top choice for these concertos. This is a larger orchestra that still manages to play with laser clarity and can still turn creamy warm as needed, with fast yet appropriate tempi delivered by a technically adept, emotive soloist. The bassoon in the continuo on the F major concerto (the one that includes recorders) is a very rich, sonorous touch. The disc is out of print, but if your library has a copy grab it! One place NOT to start might be the complete set by Trevor Pinnock with the English Concert: their big booming orchestra, superfast tempos and clattery keyboards say more about the performers than the score.

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