Monica Huggett / Portland Baroque Orchestra

J.S. Bach: Concertos for One, Two and Three Violins

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It is all to the good for American historical-performance aficionados that veteran English violinist and conductor Monica Huggett has been increasingly active stateside, first at the Juilliard School, and then with the Portland Baroque Orchestra. This being the U.S. West Coast, listeners get soloist Rob Diggins, whose bio states he is "working toward the completion of his E-500hr RYT certification through the Teacher Training Program of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition." Yet Huggett has largely transferred the sound of her earlier Sonnerie ensemble to the rising Portland group, and anyone who has enjoyed her work in the past should get something out of this rather adventurous group of performances. She keeps the ensemble crisp through brilliant readings that incorporate just a hint of tempo variation. Huggett herself appears on violin only in the pair of triple concertos, both arranged from other sources, but whoever is playing it's still very much her performance. The Concerto for three violins in D major, BWV 1064R, better known as a harpsichord concerto, but hypothesized to have originally been for violins, is pieced together from several sources, most notably an arrangement by Christopher Hogwood in which the soloists serve as the ripieno. Annotator Jude Ziliak (in whose notes editorial errors detract from credibility) argues that this lightens an unusually dense texture, but the procedure is hard to square with the Vivaldian models of these concertos, known to have been played by large groups. The only real negative is muddy chapel sound, which adds in some of the textural lack of clarity that Huggett has done so much to weed out. A worthwhile entry in the growing field of state-of-the-art, American, historical-performance recordings.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto in D minor, BWV 1063
1 4:54
2 4:03
3 4:48
Concerto in A minor, for violin, BWV 1041
4 3:46
5 5:41
6 3:46
Concerto in E major, for violin, BWV 1042
7 8:01
8 5:46
9 2:56
Concerto in D minor, for two violins, BWV 1043
10 3:47
11 6:06
12 4:33
Concerto in D major, for three violins, BWV 1064R (Reconstruction from Concerto in C major for three harpsichords, BWV 1064)
13 6:11
14 5:49
15 4:48
blue highlight denotes track pick