Isabelle Faust / Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin / Bernhard Forck / Xenia Löffler

Johann Sebastian Bach: Violin Concertos; Sinfonias; Overture; Sonatas

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Germany's Isabelle Faust is among the hot Baroque violinists right now, and this collection of Bach works seems destined to repeat the success of her earlier Bach releases. There are many attractive features here. Some of the pieces are familiar and established works, while some are reconstructions from works in other media; these work well, and it's notable that they were devised by Faust and the musicians of the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, working together. Faust is capable of blistering speed without losing musicality, and there's a mounting excitement in the outer movements of, say, the Trio Sonata for two violins and basso continuo, BWV 529. Faust's 1658 Stainer violin has a unique wiry sound that complements her playing beautifully. And she is matched by other remarkable players, notably Baroque oboist Xenia Löffler, principal oboist of the Akademie für alte Musik, who also takes a splendid turn on the recorder. The Teldex studio sound in Berlin reveals many small polyphonic details of the music, and the presence of sinfonias and sonatas, three of them excerpted from Bach cantatas, results in a compellingly varied program. The only fly in the ointment is the low contrast between the solo parts and the tutti in the concertos, and for this reason the trio sonatas and the sinfonias may work better than the concertos. It is true that Bach worked with small ensembles in Cöthen and Leipzig that approximated the 15-18 players of the Akademie für alte Musik here, and it is also true that Bach blurs the solo-tutti line in unusual ways. But that's the point: a sharp distinction is necessary if you're going to catch the ways he blurs the boundary. And further, although Bach's ensembles were small, the sound ideal of the Vivaldian Italian concerto was something else again: the orchestra at Vivaldi's Ospedale della Pietà is thought to have included as many as 60 players, and it would seem that Bach would have heard a sharper division in his head in this genre. Your reactions to the homogeneous textures cultivated by Faust and Akademie leader and violinist Bernhard Forck may vary, but even if you don't buy what they've done in this regard, there is much to enjoy and appreciate here.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto for Violin, Strings and Basso Continuo BWV 1052R in D minor
1 06:54
2 05:49
3 06:52
4 05:12
Concerto for Violin, Strings and Basso Continuo BWV 1042 in E major
5 07:06
6 05:33
7 02:35
Cantata 'Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis' BWV 21 in C minor
8 03:05
Trio Sonata for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo BWV 529 in C major
9 03:53
10 04:56
11 02:47
Concerto for Oboe, Violin, Strings and Basso Continuo BWV 1060R in C minor
12 04:28
13 04:50
14 03:07

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Overture [Suite No. 2] for Violin and Strings BWV 1067 in A minor
1 10:04
2 01:37
3 02:27
4 01:55
5 03:37
6 01:02
7 01:20
Trio Sonata for Oboe, Violin and Basso Continuo BWV 527 in D minor
8 04:18
9 04:40
10 03:12
Concerto for Violin, Strings and Basso Continuo BWV 1056R in G minor
11 03:11
12 02:52
13 03:16
Cantata 'Himmelskönig, sei willkommen' BWV 182 in G major
14 02:16
Concerto for Violin, Strings and Basso Continuo BWV 1041 in A minor
15 03:21
16 04:49
17 03:21
18 05:30
Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings and Basso Continuo BWV 1043 in D minor
19 03:20
20 05:51
21 04:23
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