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Bach: Concertos For Two Harpischords / Masaaki & Masato Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan

Bach
Release Date: 05/27/2014 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 2051   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masato SuzukiMasaaki Suzuki
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

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When it comes to J.S. Bach via Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan you can be pretty sure you are hearing state-of-the-art recording and performances. With the huge project recording Bach’s Cantatas now complete, these musicians can further explore instrumental music which has already brought top choice recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos and numerous solo works for harpsichord.

Each of the three concertos BWV 1060-62 are accompanied by a small quintet of strings: what amounts to a standard string quartet plus a violone bass. This light and transparent backing balances well while putting the
Read more harpsichords firmly in the foreground. While you wouldn’t exactly call it muscular it also avoids sounding thin, with plenty of rhythmic oomph in the faster movements. The programme opens with the refreshing sounds of the Concerto in C minor, BWV 1062, better known in its version for two violins in D minor BWV 1043. The booklet notes remark on Bach’s careful arrangement in this version, and this superb music sounds excellent in this performance, though don’t expect much expressive sustain in that beautiful Andante e piano central movement. The dialogue between the soloists is nicely captured in BWV 1061, the final Fuga a genuine delight. The Concerto in C minor, BWV 1060 is a real masterpiece, and as with the other concertos I admire the players for expressive playing which avoids pretension. These are works which can speak for themselves, and with tempi neither too swift or too slow there are no weak moments and plenty of life-enhancing energy on show.

There are inevitably quite a few competitors in this field, not least from Helmut Müller-Brühl on Naxos 8.554217, which has lively performances of all of these double-harpsichord concertos and BWV 1034 and BWV 1065 for three and four harpsichords respectively. The venerable Philips recordings from Raymond Leppard and the English Chamber Orchestra now sound a bit stately by comparison but are by no means ugly ducklings, and somewhere in between are the elegantly polished but rather uninvolving forces of Robert Leven and Jeffrey Kahane with Helmuth Rilling on the Hänssler label. There are many more, and you can’t ignore Ton Koopman on Warner Classics (see review), but if you are collectors of the fruitful Suzuki/BIS collaboration then this will be an automatic choice and one which will reward your loyalty.

As so many of Bach’s concertos are arrangements is doesn’t seem so very strange to have Masato Suzuki’s two harpsichord arrangement of the Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066. The full sound of the two instruments together creates its own excitement, and there is plenty to enjoy in this version. The justifications for its creation laid out in the booklet are an interesting sideline but not really necessary. Masato Suzuki’s arrangement is “an attempt to reconstruct what Bach might have done himself”, and it certainly sounds convincing, with the sonorities of the instruments explored to the full. The thrumming low strings in the final Passepied are wonderful. Great fun is to be had from the differences between each dance movement and the cracking pace with which some are taken, adding to the virtuoso flair surrounding this entire CD.

I have an affection for Bach on the piano, but these are works which respond as well or better to the bounce and upper harmonic spectrum of harpsichords, especially when performed with so much verve and dedication as in this case. This is a very fine release, the BIS engineering to be relished in stereo as well as in the added space and sense of detail you have from the 5.0 SACD set-up. This is one case in which feeling as if you are amongst the musicians is nothing but pleasurable.

– Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1062 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masato Suzuki (Harpsichord), Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
2.
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C minor, BWV 1060 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masato Suzuki (Harpsichord), Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
3.
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C major, BWV 1061 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masato Suzuki (Harpsichord), Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bach Collegium Japan
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
4.
Suite for Orchestra no 1 in C major, BWV 1066 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Masato Suzuki (Harpsichord), Masaaki Suzuki (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Notes: Arrangement: Masato Suzuki 

Sound Samples

Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Minor, BWV 1062: I. (Allegro)
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Minor, BWV 1062: II. Andante e piano
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Minor, BWV 1062: III. Allegro assai
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Major, BWV 1061: I. [Allegro]
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Major, BWV 1061: II. Adagio
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Major, BWV 1061: III. Fuga
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (arr. Masato Suzuki for 2 harpsichords): I. Overture
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (arr. Masato Suzuki for 2 harpsichords): II. Courante
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (arr. Masato Suzuki for 2 harpsichords): III. Gavotte I-II
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (arr. Masato Suzuki for 2 harpsichords): IV. Forlane
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (arr. Masato Suzuki for 2 harpsichords): V. Menuet I-II
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (arr. Masato Suzuki for 2 harpsichords): VI. Bourree I-II
Overture (Suite) No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066 (arr. Masato Suzuki for 2 harpsichords): VII. Passepied I-II
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Minor, BWV 1060: I. Allegro
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Minor, BWV 1060: II. Adagio
Concerto for 2 Keyboards in C Minor, BWV 1060: III. Allegro

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