Author Topic: mini-blind comparison - JS Bach 'reconstructed' Violin Concerto in D Minor  (Read 542 times)

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Offline aukhawk

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 :-X

This morning I had a listen to the same D Minor concerto as more usually performed on harpsichord, first in the new recording by Masato Suzuki and then referring back to Trevor Pinnock

   

In both cases I felt the music had a genteel-ness that was almost looking forward to Haydn - quite different from the exuberance of the best of the violin versions.  In the case of Suzuki I just put this down to the hallmark style of the Bach Collegium Japan who do tend to have a beautifying, airbrushing effect on everything they touch - which is why I turned to Pinnock.  He however was sat a bit lower in the mix and a bit tinkly, more of a continuo part than a soloist most of the time.  There's a real danger of the sewing-machine effect here and it's the orchestra's responsibility to lift the music, and Pinnock's English Concert are successful here in supplying the necessary bounce.  But nothing like the back-beat generated by the orchestra in sample A3, for instance.

At one point in the Pinnock recording - a trilling section about halfway through the movement - there is a general slowing-down as Pinnock palpably gets his knickers fingers in a twist.  You can see why the violinists claim this is their music.  This is acknowledged in the accompanying notes to Suzuki's recording:
"Although it is impossible to know how many of Bach’s works have been lost, we can to some extent make an educated guess about those works that must have existed by careful study of specific instrumental idioms in the transcriptions.  BWV 1052 and the outer movements of BWV 1056 contain writing which seems specific to violin technique, something that strongly hints at them having their origins in lost violin concertos."

But for me it is the slow movement where the most clear difference lies.  Here the orchestra and violin peacably coexist in gentle legato counterpoint, like a lazy hot summer afternoon on the river.  The harpsichordist simply cannot fill this space, no matter how much ornamentation Suzuki may add - frankly he just sounds desperate.  :(

Offline aukhawk

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Results

There were 3 female and 2 male violinists in each of the 2 groups.
3 of them were Italian - all accurately identified by premont - very impressive (though his overall score was 4/10).
The next most represented country was ... Australia with 1.5.  1 each German, Russian, French, and Transylvanian (oo-er).

I scored the comments like this: 5 for 'best in group', down to 0 for 'this is a car crash' - with a bonus point available for any recording singled out as best across both groups'.  Thus with three respondents the max possible score is 18, and I would suppose any total of 12 or over to be very good.

10th and 9th: B5 and A1 did not score well, with B5 (Fabio Biondi / Europa Galante) just winning the race to the bottom with 4 points.
A1 (Amandine Beyer / Gli Incogniti) scored 5, which I thought was a bit disappointing.
These don't really deserve to be pictured, but everyone likes a Beyer image so:
 

8th scoring 8 was B2, the oldest recording of the 10, Salvatore Accardo / COE  (1985).  I thought he sounded pretty good and not at all out of place in this predominantly HIP or HIP-ish company.  In fact, I was impressed.




6th equal scoring 9 were A2 and A4, Australians both.  A2 was Stanley Ritchie / The Bach Ensemble / conducted by a godfather of HIP, Joshua Rifkin - known not only for his influential Bach scholarship but also as a mean player of piano ragtime.  By the way that's three out of the four male contenders accounted for already.
A4 was Elizabeth Wallfisch / Apollo's Fire / Sorrel, this I think her more recent (2010?) of (at least) 2 recordings.  This one seemed a bit too slow to me (though admittedly I later heard and liked Huggett, playing at almost the same pace) and the only slower rendition I've heard is David Oistrakh (1960) which, though I hate to say this of the great man, is just painful to listen to.

 


5th scoring 10 points was B4, that was Midori Seiler / AAM Berlin.  A very enjoyable disc of mixed concerti, which dates from about 2005.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 01:51:01 PM by aukhawk »

Offline aukhawk

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Before continuing with the Results, Huggett who I mentioned above is I feel deserving of inclusion in the top rank:


3rd equal with 11 points, A3 and B3, both released in 2019.
A3 is Kati Debretzeni / English Baroque Soloists / Gardiner, and this is my personal favourite version, but that may simply have something to do with (see discussions in the Beethoven Quartets thread) 'loudness'.  The band here have a real infectious backbeat going - but in this test sample Kati makes a bit of a Horlicks of the 'cadenza'.  In any case, very hard to split her and:
B3 is Isabelle Faust / AAM Berlin - her second recording, and recorded about 14 years after the Midori Seiler version with the same band, so a complete personnel change, I'd guess.  Faust's recording is part of a 2-CD set which includes some unusual stuff all performed to the same high standard, well worth checking out if you're looking for something a bit different in the Bach orchestral music repertoire and don't mind shelling out for a double album.

   


2nd with 12 points is B1 that is Alina Ibragimova / Arcangelo.  About 5 years old, this one. I just love everything Ibra does - from her solo Bach and Ysaÿe, to her Haydn quartets with the Chiaroscuros, to her Shostakovich concertos - it's shame that as a Hyperion artist she is a bit inaccessible via the streaming services.  Let's hope the extra income from record sales helps support her metro-lifestyle.  ;)




1st (drum roll please) with 17 points is:
A3 A5 of course, correctly identified by premont with nonchalant ease, as Giuliano Carmignola / Concerto Koln.  Coupled with four other concertos including the beautiful double concerto in the same key of D minor.  What can I say - 17 points out of a possible 18 - this is a performance which clearly speaks for itself.  In fact I must go and listen to it again.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 01:55:18 PM by aukhawk »

Offline mc ukrneal

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Very interesting and much appreciated! (BTW, a typo - you say A3 instead of A5 in first place)

I actually have that version too, which I will be listening to in the coming week when I have time.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline (: premont :)

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Thanks for this game. It's always instructive to be confronted with ones prejudices.

The four I got right were IMO rather immediately recognizable. As to the others it may play a role, that it is years ago since I listened to them - except Faust and Debretzeni, which I heard only once when I purchased them shortly after their release. It may also play a role that the clip you offered wasn't fully representative for all of the violinists. But I think this problem would turn up whatever clip you had chosen.

But one small correction. I am not aware, that David Oistrakh has recorded BWV 1052R. On the other hand Igor Oistrakh recorded it 1958 (with Konwitschny) The recording was initially released by Eterna. This was the first recording I got of this work (1052R) as early as in 1965.

https://www.discogs.com/Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Igor-Oistrach-Staatskapelle-Berlin-Franz-Konwitschny-Konzert-F%C3%BCr-Violine-Und-/master/1271358

The recording was later re-released on CD by Berlin Classics which confused the attribution to David. But it was also released on CD by Forgotten Records, which got the attribution right.

https://forgottenrecords.com/en/Oistrakh-Oistrakh--Konwitschny--Bach-Vitali-Mozart--559.html
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 10:34:37 AM by (: premont :) »
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Offline aukhawk

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Thanks for the typo, mc ukrneal - how stupid! - premont I bow to your knowledge, of course I was listening to this:



which does appear to attribute the solo concertos to David Oistrakh / Staatskapelle Berlin / Konwitschny, but the double concertos on the same album are obviously with Igor as pictured so I daresay there waa some scope for confusion.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 01:30:32 PM by aukhawk »