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Retrospect Ensemble - JS Bach Harpsichord Concertos - Music Web International


01 November 2012
Music Web International
Brian Wilson

From the opening of BWV1057, Bach's own recycling of the material from the Brandenburg Concerto No.4, I knew that this was an instant winner - but anything that Matthew Halls and the Retrospect Ensemble touch seems to turn to gold. There are other, larger-scale performances of these concertos and I shall turn to them from time to time still, not least to the vintage Trevor Pinnock set on DG and Angela Hewitt (piano) and Richard Tognetti on Hyperion. Despite my general aversion to Bach on the piano, Angela Hewitt is the exception, but it's to this more intimate Linn recording that I'm most likely to revert. You just need to accept that Angela Hewitt's and Matthew Halls' takes on the music are both excellent but quite different. This is music-making on the same scale as those original performances in the Leipzig coffee shop where the works were first performed.

Scholarship concerning pitch (415Hz) and temperament (1/6 comma meantone) meets sheer musical enjoyment here. The music goes with a swing without sounding mechanical and the recording is excellent - I listened to the SACD and to the 24/96 flac from the range on offer. The pdf booklet is first-class, too.

I reviewed Matthew Halls' recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations some time ago so the high quality of this recording of the concertos comes as no surprise, and I've enjoyed the other recordings that he's made with the Retrospect Ensemble and the King's Consort.

The CD layer of the recording is excellent but the SACD layer and the 24-bit download both add that little extra that makes them worth the cost. Gawain Glenton's notes in the booklet are not the least of the virtues of this new recording. Now may we have the other keyboard concertos including those for two, three and four solo instruments from these performers? 


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J.S. Bach: Harpsichord ConcertosJ.S. Bach: Harpsichord Concertos