W. F. Bach: Concertos pour clavecin et cordes

Maude Gratton, Il Convito
74:00
Mirare MIR162

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s is an interesting voice – part baroque, part galant and the occasional touch of Sturm und Drang. Here we have three harpsichord concertos, a lively fugue for strings and a four movement sinfonia. It has to be a matter of regret that Il convito have not explored the performance practice options inherent in their chosen repertoire. Single strings (including a rather heavy 16’ double bass) are used throughout where just a quartet might have been more appropriate for the concertos and then multiple instruments (with 16’) for at least the sinfonia if not necessarily the fugue. The booklet scarcely helps this rarely-recorded composer. Although the concertos receive a full commentary there is no mention of the other pieces, even though there’s no lack of space. But whatever the shortcomings of the issue the music is splendid – real virtuosity in the keyboard writing; Maude Gratton (a Bruges prize-winner on organ) delivers it with considerable panache; and against single strings the harpsichord is never overwhelmed though I did feel that it could have been a little more forward in the overall sound. But you should get this, and not just to round out your view of the truly extraordinary Bach family.

David Hansell