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Bach: Keyboard Concertos / Nick Van Bloss, David Parry, English Chamber Orchestra

Bach,J.s. / Van Bloss
Release Date: 03/13/2012 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 6141   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss
Conductor:  David Parry
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Keyboard Concertos: in A, BWV 1055; in g, BWV 1058; in D, BWV 1054; in E, BWV 1053; in f, BWV 1056 David Parry, cond; Nick van Bloss (pn); English CO NIMBUS ALLIANCE 6141 (73:22)


In recent months, I’ve auditioned a couple of new Read more recordings of Bach’s keyboard concertos played on piano, but chose not to review them because they weren’t to my liking. These renditions by pianist Nick van Bloss, however, are very much to my liking.


At 44, London born Bloss is no youngster. One might wonder then why one hasn’t heard of him and why this is only his second or third CD. The answer is that at the age of 26, Bloss “retired” for 15 years, not just from playing in public, but from even touching a piano. The whys and wherefores are perhaps explained in his autobiographical memoir, Busy Body , and subsequent BBC “Horizon” documentary inspired by his journey. Not having read the book or seen the TV documentary, I can’t say what prompted Bloss’s self-examination and reflection on his life at such a young age, but whatever it was, it led him to recommit himself to the piano; and in 2008, he began his “comeback” with the recording at hand and a recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.


Everyone knows by now—or they should—that all (mostly) of Bach’s keyboard concertos are transcriptions by the composer of works he’d previously written for other instruments. The irony of this is that in some cases the concertos survive only in their later keyboard versions—for example, the Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052 (not on this disc), and the Concerto in F Minor, BWV 1056—while others are much more readily recognized in their original versions—BWV 1058 and BWV 1054, for example, being widely known as the Violin Concertos in A Minor and E Major, respectively. In each case, where Bach transcribed the work for keyboard, he seems to have simultaneously transposed it down by one step, so that the A-Minor and E-Major Violin Concertos become the G-Minor and D-Major keyboard concertos. It’s logical to assume that he followed this practice for all of the keyboard versions, but it remains a mystery why. Surely, it added more work to the task and more opportunity for error.


In any case, because these are all transcriptions by Bach himself, and because they were most likely prepared for evenings of entertainment offered by Telemann’s Collegium musicum at Zimmerman’s coffee house, one needn’t necessarily approach these concertos as holy writ and, indeed, it’s not unusual for players to spruce up these works with some of their own original flourishes. And here’s where we come to Bloss. He tweaks these scores in the spirit of sheer joy and fun, adding some of the most inventive and delightful embellishments and decorative trimmings I can recall ever hearing. They’re never overdone or out of character with the music, and the result are performances infused with an invigorating life force so spirited and sprightly that the music figuratively dances off the page. This is so different from some of the dutiful, dead-serious, pedantic readings of these concertos I’ve heard on both piano and harpsichord that it makes them sound new and fresh all over again, instead of like just another run-through of the same hackneyed pieces we’ve all heard so many times before.


The English Chamber Orchestra, of course, is no stranger to these works. The ensemble recorded them in their keyboard versions on harpsichord with Raymond Leppard and on piano with András Schiff, and in their violin versions—those that exist in violin versions—with Stern, Perlman, Zukerman, and Mutter. But if you want to hear this music on piano in performances that will really bring it alive for you in ways it perhaps hasn’t on other recordings, this is the one to have. Is it too much to hope that Bloss will follow up this album with the rest of Bach’s concertos?


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins    
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Harpsichord in A major, BWV 1055 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss (Piano)
Conductor:  David Parry
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 13 Minutes 37 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for Harpsichord in G minor, BWV 1058 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss (Piano)
Conductor:  David Parry
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 13 Minutes 34 Secs. 
3.
Concerto for Harpsichord in D major, BWV 1054 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss (Piano)
Conductor:  David Parry
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 16 Minutes 0 Secs. 
4.
Concerto for Harpsichord in E major, BWV 1053 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss (Piano)
Conductor:  David Parry
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 19 Minutes 18 Secs. 
5.
Concerto for Harpsichord in F minor, BWV 1056 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss (Piano)
Conductor:  David Parry
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London 
Length: 10 Minutes 6 Secs. 

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