Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Concertos: No. 2 in E;
No. 1 in a.
Concerto for 2 Violins.
Violin and Oboe Concerto in c
Robert King, cond; Catherine Macintosh (vn);
Elizabeth Wallfisch (vn);
Paul Goodwin (ob);
The King’s Consort
HELIOS 55347 (58:55)
David K. Nelson reviewed the original release of Bach’s concertos for violin recorded by Catherine Macintosh, Elizabeth Wallfisch, Paul Goodwin, and The King’s Consort between April 30 and May 2, 1989, on Hyperion 66380, in 13:6. In that release, Macintosh and Wallfisch played with a wheezingly nasal, more aggressive period sound that may not have ingratiated itself with those who prefer lusher modern timbres—although David found their tone “attractive” (Macintosh drew this “attractive” tone from a violin made by Jan Bouwmeester in 1669 and Wallfisch, from one made by Petrus Paulus de Vitor in 1790). But nobody should have been, or should now be, put off by the bracing tempos they’ve chosen in the fast movements nor by an occasionally less lingering one in the slow movements. Their reading, for example, transmits the contrapuntal
joie de vivre
of the “Double” Concerto’s first movement by means of enhanced lightness and clarity (even at the lower pitch of A = 415) as well as by means of the breathtaking tempo. (Young players on modern instruments like Kennedy with the Berlin Philharmonic—EMI 57091, 24:4—Hilary Hahn on Deutsche Grammophon—000098602, 27:3—and Julia Fischer—Decca 478 0650, 32:5—have also created amalgams of tempo and clarity.) And those who find Romanticized versions of the slow movement somewhat too serious for the music’s good should find welcome relief in Macintosh’s and Wallfisch’s reading (Macintosh similarly transmogrifies the slow movement of the A-Minor Concerto by adjusting the tempo). Some may even feel that the performers, stepping aside, have let the composer’s mastery speak directly. And, while the performances may no longer seem startlingly fresh, Robert King specified several textual variants that may not yet have become familiar: notably—and to alert listeners, perhaps—one several bars before the cadenza in the first movement of the E-Major Concerto and an alternative bowing in the finale of the A-Minor Concerto. The timbres of the violin and oboe emerge with sparkling transparency in this lighter-weight reading of the C-Minor Concerto, and Wallfisch balances musically and tonally Paul Goodwin’s prepossessing reading of the oboe solo.
With the passing of time and further exploration of period-performance practice, these readings still communicate a sense of exhilaration. And the recorded sound (David called it “open and free”) continues to match the performances themselves perfectly. Still strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Catherine Mackintosh (Violin),
Elizabeth Wallfisch (Violin)
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany
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