Christopher Hogwood

Bach: Concertos & Duets

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There is nothing wrong with either this disc or your compact disc player. Christopher Hogwood and Christophe Rousset really are playing radically different keyboard instruments on nearly every work -- harpsichords on the J.S. Bach works, clavichords on the W.F. and C.P.E. Bach works, and square pianos on the J.C. Bach work -- so the dramatic changes in the sound is already present in the recording. Once you get used to it, it is a wonderful idea. The variety of the instruments goes a long way toward mitigating the aural fatigue of listening to a pair of harpsichords for an entire disc. And, more to the point, the idea of programming a sequence of keyboard duets by the Bach family demonstrating not only the brilliance of their music but the beauty of the instruments is even more wonderful. But perhaps most wonderful of all are the performances by Hogwood and Rousset. Although Hogwood is perhaps the driest of all the early music superstars, his performances here with Rousset are light and lively and filled with delight. Perhaps it is playing with one of the great young virtuosos of the early music movement or perhaps it is simply the sheer joy of the works that has loosened up Hogwood. Whatever the reason, this disc of Bach keyboard duets was one of the best he'd recorded in years. For all the differences in instruments, L'Oiseau Lyre's digital recording is vivid and warm for every one of them.