Brecon Baroque / Rachel Podger

Bach: Violin Concertos

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Since the sensational reception in 1999 of her recordings on Channel Classics of J.S. Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin, Rachel Podger has become one of the world's leading Baroque violinists and a favorite of classical listeners who want historically informed performances. But beyond the well-deserved celebrity and the authentic style is Podger's phenomenal musicianship and technical skill that anyone can appreciate, whether or not authentic practice is at issue. This 2010 hybrid SACD release of Bach's violin concertos with the Brecon Baroque is a bona fide re-creation of what the music sounded like in the 18th century, and the small scale of the orchestra, the idiomatic embellishments, and the sumptuous string and continuo timbres are all any fan of early music could desire. But the music is so brilliant, sensitive, and communicative that it will reach even those who have only listened to conventional performances of these pieces, or none at all. To top it off, Podger's eloquent solo part is the center of attention in all four works, though her playing and the presentation are not forced; rather, her playing grows out of the ensemble organically and is unified with the whole. The sound of this album is surprisingly warm and vibrant, despite the relative absence of vibrato, and the intimacy of the setting comes through, thanks to the close but comfortable microphone placement.

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