Anne Akiko Meyers

Air: The Bach Album

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This release by California violinist Anne Akiko Meyers looks both backward and forward. Meyers' playing is a throwback to a style of Bach playing that was common a couple of generations ago but isn't much heard anymore: flowery, heavy on the vibrato, a bit sentimental, with moments of slight tempo rubato in both the violin and the orchestral accompaniment of the English Chamber Orchestra (which was always the go-to group for this style) under Steven Mercurio. The novelty factor here involves the magic of overdubbing, which has been commonplace in pop since Patti Page's hits of the 1940s but is still a rarity in classical music: Meyers uses a pair of Stradivarius violins in the Concerto for two violins, strings, and continuo in D minor, BWV 1043, playing both herself. Whether or not you are fully on board with these approaches, you're likely to agree that Meyers executes them both quite well. Her pitch is precise in the Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041, and she pulls on the heartstrings in the arrangements of the so-called Air on a G string from the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068, and the Bach/Gounod Ave Marie. But the real attraction is the Double Concerto, where Meyers makes the most of her two violins, the "Molitor" of 1697 (the violin I part) and the "Royal Spanish" of 1730. The latter has a slightly rougher tone that Meyers deploys very effectively in its lower register. Though it's not everyone's cup of tea, this recording has met with well-deserved commercial success.

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