Recorded immediately after the 2022 Boulder Bach Festival, this disc contains several of the highlights featured in that year’s performances, including Bach’s Concerto for two violins, BWV 1043, and the magnificent Concerto for harpsichord, BWV 1052, as well as two vocal works by Johann Christoph Bach.
For early music aficionados, what makes this recording most interesting is that these works are performed on modern instruments – apart from the harpsichord, of course – with period-based nuances such as using a Baroque bow for the double bass, or a classical bow on a viola, added at the discretion of the performer. By making these decisions by ear, rather than adherence to convention and 20th-century tradition, the musicians tailored their sound to the overall interpretation, producing a result that is more forthcoming and strident than period instruments, but with the shapes and phrasings that listeners have come to expect.
These interpretations portray Bach at his most dramatic and invigorating, with performances that are full of energy and joy. The Concerto for two violins is serious yet playful, abounding with communicativeness and ample musical dialogue between the soloists and orchestra. The Concerto for harpsichord, always serious, is imbued with a lightness and grace that keeps it from becoming funereal, but it is also played deliberately enough that it contains all the gravity demanded of it.
The vocal works by J.S. Bach’s older cousin Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) – not to be confused with J.S. Bach’s uncle, who had the same name and introduced J.S. to the organ, or J.S.’ eldest brother who also had the same name and mentored J.S. after his parents died – are beautiful in their simplicity, and a fine contrast to the density of Johann Sebastian’s musical vernacular. With two excellent performances of two of Bach’s finest concertos, this disc is not one to be overlooked, and is an excellent testament to the talent present at the Boulder Bach Festival.