Robert Woolley and the Purcell Quartet continue their definitive Bach Harpsichord Concerto series which has quickly gained a reputation for freshness and clarity.
Thought to be the first complete survey of the concertos recorded with single strings, the texture aquires a clarity which allows the listener to enjoy the works in a totally new light. The full body of the harpsichord tone comes through clearly, rather than being masked by the string sound.
The Concerto for four harpsichords featured on this album is actually a transcription of Vivaldi’s Concerto for four violins, Op 3 No 10. It is a fascinating to see how Bach treats Vivaldi’s virtuosic concerto, and how well it has been transferred to the keyboard. The reading is doubly fascinating in that it brings together for the first time ever, four copies of the same Mietke harpsichord, by four diferent makes.
Bach’s Concerto for three harpsichords (BWV 1064) was originally written as a concerto in D for three violins. Original sources are few for the multiple concertos but it is assumed that this work was first concieved around 1730, very probably for his capable elder sons (Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel), and/or his reportedly favourite pupil Johann Ludwig Krebs.
The Concerto for harpsichord and strings in G minor (BWV 1058) is a mildly transposed version of Bach’s today famous Violin Concerto in A minor BWV 1041). Modifications are mainly to the bassline of the solo part.
The Concerto for harpsichord and strings in E major (BWV 1053) is again a re-composition of an earlier work. It is unclear which instrument served as soloist in the lost original, but many sources point to it being a wind instrument. The individuality and idiomaticism of the keyboard role is particularly significant in this concerto.