1738 was a significant year for the keyboard: not only was Handel’s first set of organ concertos published, but Bach’s equivalent works for harpsichord also came to public attention. Introduced as part of a Leipzig concert series and written while the maestro was Director of Collegium Musicum (the city’s central institution for secular music-making), these latter compositions form the subject of this engaging release.
Composers like Bach were reluctant to waste their efforts, and the harpsichord concertos are a case in point regarding the German’s predilection for recycling. Based on a structure most associated with Vivaldi’s works in the genre – and whose opening movement uses a ritornello containing a striking theme – these works contain material that is taken from several previous creations. While BWV 1052 and 1053 appear in cantatas of the late 1720s as virtual organ concertos, BWV 1057 and 1058 – taken from the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto and the A minor Violin Concerto respectively – remain much better known in their original form.
Because of their arranged status, Bach’s harpsichord concertos have been slow to enter the performers’ repertoire, and BWV1052 was the only one to be regularly played until recently. The reworkings were clearly good enough for Bach, however, and today they are an indispensable part of the keyboard’s library. Featuring first-class playing from Perahia and Kipnis, this is a highly desirable compilation.
Igor Kipnis’s recordings are now scarcely available, but he was a paragon of style and élan in this repertoire.
Murray Perahia plays the solo part in BWV1058.
Click here for alternative recordings of this work.