Saturday, 14 July 2012

Back to Real Bach

It is no surprise that the plucking harpsichord suffered more or less instant death once the hammered pianoforte appeared. The emaciated sound of the harpsichord has never appealed to me, either, and I always think of Thomas Beecham's quip about “two skeletons copulating on a tin roof”. Good fifth Brandenburg concerto recordings exist with Cortot or Serkin taking the keyboard part, and I was greatly pleased listening to Bach concerto recordings (three CDs) by the London Conchord Ensemble, and London Concertante which include four of the six Brandenburgs (omitting the first and the sixth). All the well-known violin concertos are played, with the D minor double violin concerto appearing from both groups. Not a harpsichord within earshot! And real violins and real flutes! It is a treat to have Bach taken out of the museum and to find his music is good for all eras, all ages, and all instruments. Both groups here are small, agile, technically proficient and appear to enjoy the music. One can appreciate the court at Cöthen enjoying listening to this music (played on instruments of its time) just as, hundreds of years later, we can enjoy the same music played on instruments of our time.

I bet the modern critics, and the BBC, had apoplexy if and when they heard these recordings. Musical dogma is strongly entrenched (though the dogma changes with the times). I love these three CDs, however.

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