Is it too early to start talking about records of the year? Probably.
But, some seriously brilliant stuff is going to have to be released from here on to cut this from contention.
In what has been quite a week for our ongoing fascination with the Harpsichord, this release adds a little more nitrous to the pipes. I’m blown away really by the quality of the recording, and this incredibly clear, strong instrument, singing and retreating, dancing and retreating.
Bach’s music is an endless discovery of beauty, and these concertos are perfect example. The Concerto No. 3 in D Major is a very strong case in point, with the Adagio here being an intensely introspective and heart-aching triumph. It’s sneered at of course, but if you want to have a short playlist of almost otherworldly slow pieces, it can easily be compiled from the 2 discs on offer here. Of course, that’s missing out on the completeness, and the rounding of each Concerto, but – you know – sometimes slow Bach and a whole bottle of Bordeaux in the dark is what your soul needs …
And, one of my favourite pieces of music of all time is given wonderful care here, the Largo from Concerto No. 5 in F Minor, which, like many people, I first discovered in Woody Allen’s Hannah & Her Sisters. Followed as it is by the fast- and here quite strapping – Presto, you do wonder if the point was that the fragility at the heart of Elliot and Lee’s affair in the film is symbolised by this slow movement, by missing its real positioning in the Concerto, with the true beginning and inevitable closing. A one movement retreat from real life.
Last mention has to be given to the Andante in final Concerto, the No. 6 in F Major, which has a mournful dignity in the exchanges between soloist and orchestra, and is thrilling in its grave wonder, and yet uplifting in its magnificent noise.
This record is amazing.