Xuefei Yang / Elias String Quartet

Bach: Concertos

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Since J.S. Bach was an avid arranger of his own music, as well as the works of others, the transcriptions of his keyboard and violin concertos by Xuefei Yang for this 2012 EMI Classics release is part of an honorable tradition. Bach himself made arrangements for lute that are usually played on guitar in modern performances, and Yang's decision to back the solo guitar with a string quartet was prudent, considering the need to balance its softer dynamics with a group considerably smaller than an orchestra, even one of Bach's period. To the extent that Yang and the Elias String Quartet strike appropriate levels for their roles, and serve the music well, this is an instrumentation that works and should inspire similar arrangements. In addition to the Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052, the Violin Concerto in E minor, BWV 1042, and the Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041, Yang has also adapted Bach's Prelude in C major, BWV 846 (the opening prelude of the Well-Tempered Clavier), the Violin Sonata in G minor, BWV 1001, and the "Air on the G string" from the Orchestra Suite No. 3, BWV 1068, which are popular offerings that many listeners will recognize. EMI's reproduction puts the guitar at the center of the sound, while the strings envelope it in a warm accompaniment that often sounds like a Baroque ensemble in its glossy, vibrant tone.

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