J. S. Bach: Concerti à Cembali concertati vol. 3

Concertos for 2 harpsichords
Pierre Hantaï, Aapo Häkkinen, Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Aeolus AE-10087
+ W. F. Bach: Concerto in F, Fk 10

These are among my favourite pieces of Bach; although I know two of them in their “other” versions (and, if I’m totally honest, prefer them that way…), I have enjoyed previous keyboard performances of them, and this addition to the catalogue is as persuasive as any that has gone before. The two instruments have enough difference of tone (copies by the same maker, Jürgen Ammer – to whose memory the recording is dedicated – of a Harraß from around 1710 and a Hildebrandt of c.1740) to allow their distinct voices to be heard in dialogue. The accompaniment is nicely provided by single strings and the recording has a nice resonance to it. The outstanding soloists particularly enjoy the slow movements, where they have increased freedom to employ rubato. The programme is completed a little-known concerto for two harpsichords without accompaniment by Bach’s oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, dating from the early 1730s and was clearly known by Vater Bach, since he wrote out the two keyboard parts; it is clearly in a different style, yet it was clearly written by someone thoroughly schooled in both keyboard technique and counterpoint. In fact, hearing it made me wonder why we hear so little of his music – a quick check revealed an extensive list of works, so there is clearly no shortage of material; but then, he was born into that lost generation between the Class of 1685 and Mozart/Haydn. Surely their time must come soon? And not just their orchestral music, either!

Brian Clark

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