Bach all’Italiano

Simon Borutzki & Ensemble
68:48
klanglogo (Rondeau) KL1517
BWV593, 971, 973-6, 978, 986

This is a project after J. S. Bach’s own heart, as the arch-arranger’s keyboard arrangements (of Vivaldi, Marcello and anon) are further re-arranged for recorder and continuo! Much of this music inhabits a twilit zone in the composer’s oeuvre, by him and yet not by him, so much of it was unfamiliar to me, and it strikes me that these adaptations for recorder and BC work rather well, bringing some rather fine music into the spotlight. There are occasional passages which don’t sound entirely idiomatic for the recorder, but Borutzki’s stunning virtuosity carries the day, while his musicality and that of his continuo team mean that the performances are extremely engaging. We hear him play a selection of different recorder sizes all with a persuasive mastery, seven different instruments of four different sizes, which gives the CD a fascinating dimension as an introduction to the Baroque recorder in its many guises. Particularly delightful is an account of Bach’s own Italian Concerto  on a charming original anonymous Baroque descant instrument, alternating with a tenor recorder (with lute accompaniment) for the Andante. This refreshing CD is a thorough delight, usefully bringing music which clearly appealed to J. S. Bach to a deservedly wider audience in imaginative and musically thrilling performances.

D. James Ross