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Bach: Violin Concertos, Etc / Hope, Bezuidenhout, Et Al


Release Date: 09/12/2006 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 62545   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Daniel HopeKristian BezuidenhoutJaime MartinMarieke Blankestijn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It’s hard to imagine performances of Bach’s violin concertos like those of Nigel Kennedy or, now, these by Daniel Hope, passing muster two generations ago. But since then, Bach’s model, Vivaldi, has enjoyed a second rebirth through the midwifery of period instrumentalists who have sped up the tempos of his fast movements and shone light through the ingeniously transparent textures of his slow ones, all the while employing a wider range of colors than hitherto imagined. Of course, these innovations don’t necessarily rely on the characteristic sounds of period instruments to achieve their effects, as recordings of the Four Seasons by Nigel Kennedy, Gidon Kremer, Kyung-Wha Chung, and others have demonstrated. In his program of Bach’s Violin Read more Concertos (with the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto thrown in for good measure), Daniel Hope has followed in the footsteps of these instrumentalists. In Bach’s First Violin Concerto, his tempos in the two outer movements sound brisk, even in comparison with the standards Kennedy’s benchmarks set. And he propels the passagework forward with what could be improvised rapid scales and figures. The continuo group (which, in these performances, includes theorbo as well as cello, harpsichord, and organ) not only lays a colorful foundation for the long-breathed solo part, but also provides a piquant rhythmic counterpoint that’s a universe removed from stodgily plodding, somewhat pompous continuo support in such mellifluous older performances as those by Isaac Stern and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Double Concerto has often been mentioned as Bach’s supreme achievement among his violin concertos. But Hope and his colleagues haven’t treated it with awed reverence. Once again, the outer movements sparkle at rapid tempos and with textures that, no matter how bustling, never conceal from listeners the majestic underpinnings of their bass part. The two violins cavort with exhilarating playfulness in the outer movements and weave with unselfconscious elegance in the famous slow one.

Hope and Bezuidenhout explain in the booklet’s notes that they’ve imported some of the figuration from the cognate Keyboard Concerto, BWV 1054, into the Violin Concerto in E, BWV 1042—as a result of conversations with Christoph Wolff. These provide a new twist on a Concerto that can seem a bit foursquare, for example, in the first movement’s middle section. Even if the “Lombardic” rhythms in the slow movement’s bass part sound a bit incongruous, the transparency of the textures and the ensemble’s refusal to plod heighten even further the interest of this monumental Adagio. The finale sweeps by with insistent rhythms as regular but also as infectious as those of folk fiddle dances. The Fifth Brandenburg Concerto enjoys the benefits of similar accelerated tempos, clear textures, and bright, lightweight instrumental sonorities.

Daniel Hope plays with vivacity and virtuosity, and with sparkling, lustrous brilliance, scattering highlights throughout. The recorded sound not only creates the illusion of being able to see forever, but offers seemingly bottomless depth at the moments when the textures thicken. Hope and the ensemble bring Bach closer to the insistent energy of the composer he so assiduously copied, Antonio Vivaldi; and the assimilation does honor to both. Urgently recommended as a visceral way to approach these stimulating landmarks.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, BWV 1041 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Daniel Hope (Violin), Kristian Bezuidenhout (Harpsichord)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  St Paul's Church, London, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: St Paul's Church, London, England (10/31/2005 - 11/02/2005) 
2.
Concerto for Violin no 2 in E major, BWV 1042 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Daniel Hope (Violin), Kristian Bezuidenhout (Harpsichord), Kristian Bezuidenhout (Organ)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  St Paul's Church, London, England 
Length: 15 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: St Paul's Church, London, England (10/31/2005 - 11/02/2005) 
3.
Brandenburg Concerto no 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Kristian Bezuidenhout (Harpsichord), Daniel Hope (Violin), Jaime Martin (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720-1721; ?Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  St Paul's Church, London, England 
Length: 21 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Notes: St Paul's Church, London, England (10/31/2005 - 11/02/2005) 
4.
Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Daniel Hope (Violin), Kristian Bezuidenhout (Organ), Kristian Bezuidenhout (Harpsichord),
Marieke Blankestijn (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Venue:  St Paul's Church, London, England 
Length: 13 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: St Paul's Church, London, England (10/31/2005 - 11/02/2005) 

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