Bach: Harpsichord Concertos II

Bach: Harpsichord Concertos II
Francesco Corti, il Pomno d’Oro
Pentatone PTC 5186 889. 61’36

Cover J.S. Bach: Harpsichord Concertos, Vol. 2

This is the second of a two-disc series of the Bach harpsichord concertos. It includes Concertos No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054, No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056, and No. 6 in F Major, BWV 1057, and, to complete the timing, the Concerto for harpsichord, flute and violin in A Minor, BWV 1044. The choice of concertos for the two discs was based on the orchestration forces, with these concertos using solo, rather than multiple strings. The balance works well in all four concertos.

Francesco Corti‘s playing is punchy and invigorating. He gets excellent support in like style from the musicians of il Pomno d’Oro, notably Andrés Locatelli & Alessandro Nasello, recorders in the F major Concerto and Evgenii Sviridov, violin, and Marcello Gatti, traverso, in the Triple Concerto.

Recording such a well-known repertoire is tricky, not least in finding the delicate balance between drawing attention to this particular recording and making sensible interpretation decisions. On this occasion I think the balance is just about right. The rather over exaggerated articulation of the accompaniment in the Largo of Concerto 5, the very brisk final movement, and some very strong playing are perhaps the most extreme of several interpretation mannerisms. But none of them seriously interfere with listening, although time will tell as to whether repeated listening will have the same satisfaction level. Factors that bring live performance so compelling, not least because they pass by quickly, can become rather irritating on repeated listening.

The harpsichord is a 1998 Andrea Restell after Christian Vater 1738. The recording, from a Italian villa, is well focussed and picks up the strength of the interpretations, albeit with some exagerated bass. In the first movement of the Triple Concerto the harpsichord sounds very much in the background, which is probably exactly where it was, although balance changes in the later movements..