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Re: bwv 1060

At 11:08 AM 8/4/2000 -0700, Jim Morrison wrote:
This Casals/Tabutea/Stern version of bwv 1060 oboe and violin concerto is
deeply moving.

I don't know whose idea it was to play the music at this slow a tempo, but
it made for a great speed for which Tabutea and Stern to work their magic.

Exactly. It is slow but still poised and noble, and at the same time very emotionally charged. Everything works.

I think Gould would be proud of such a pace.  The faster tempo versions I've
heard add a sense of "busyness" to the violin and oboe lines that work
against the drama of the lines.

Another outstanding version is the new one with Andrew Manze and Rachel Podger playing it on two violins, in D minor. Harmonia Mundi 907155 (low price published with a catalogue). They take only 4'48" but it has a very easy flow and still feels relaxed/slow. It feels like four to the bar, or even two, not 12 as in the Casals/Tabuteau/Stern. The lines intertwine wonderfully, and it's a nice effect having two similar but still distinctly toned instruments. The violin playing is very vocal, almost speechlike.

Also in that recording Alastair Ross on harpsichord does a great job laying
in some very casual spreads of chords, so the accompaniment is not just
plunk-plunk-plunk from everybody.  That's one of the best ways to play
harpsichord continuo, in my opinion: put in things that enhance the
character of the movement, the more lyrically the better in this type of
music.  Play the mood above all, and in big gestures expressing the musical
dynamics, rather than slavishly duplicating all the bass notes covered by
other players.  Sort of a "Count Basie" style of ensemble accompaniment:
nothing so lavish that it distracts or seems busy.

Now, this is pretty much the opposite of what GG did on his "harpsipiano"
in the Bach cantata #54 - he doubled violin lines and other parts in urging
everybody along.  But he was being experimental, and typical Baroque
continuo style was quite a bit different in those days a few decades
ago......and we digress.

Listen to a version for two harpsichords for a very different interpretation
of the piece.

The version for two harpsichords is of course the only one that survives from Bach's time, and the others (violin/oboe or violin/violin, variously in C minor or D minor) are modern reconstructions. The conjecture is that all the harpsichord concertos started life as something else, and then got transcribed for harpsichords, and most of the originals (if they existed) have been lost.

The cases where we have both the harpsichord version and another version
are: 1062 (2 hpsi, orig 2 violins); 1065 (4 hpsi, orig Vivaldi 4 violins);
1054 (orig violin); 1058 (orig violin); 1057 (orig Brandenburg 4).  The
triple concerto (hpsi/violin/flute) should also be included here, developed
by Bach from a solo hpsi prelude/fugue and an organ trio sonata.  All the
other Bach hpsi concertos except Brandenburg 5 have been arranged by
various later people back to presumed originals that don't now exist.

(Incidentally, one wonderful example of this is the 1055 A major, played on
oboe d'amore by Andreas Lorenz with the Virtuosi Saxoniae/Guttler.  Berlin
Classics 11512.  Lorenz delivers the melody with a gorgeous, rhythmically
loose casualness that sounds absolutely right.  Remember GG's raves about
Barbra Streisand?  Well, it's just like that!  Many others also play this
same reconstruction but not this freely.)

If GG had recorded Bach's concertos for two, three, or four keyboards, who
among his contemporaries would have been good partners in this?  (Either to
agree with his style, or to provide contrast with an equally intense sense
of presence?)

Bradley Lehman
Dayton VA