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Hanover Band|JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos, BWV 1052, 1054, 1055 & 1058

JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos, BWV 1052, 1054, 1055 & 1058

Hanover Band & Andrew Arthur

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J.S. Bach is often thought of as a conservative, but in one respect, he was anything but; his seven harpsichord concertos were the first instances of the keyboard concerto genre that has come down to the present day. Unlike with the Brandenburg Concertos, Bach's other great monuments in the concerto genre, there is considerable uncertainty about where, when, and for whom they were written. Harpsichordist Andrew Arthur, leading the Hanover Band historical performance ensemble, accepts a hypothesis that they were composed for use by the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, that they were essentially coffee house music to be performed by a small group. Accordingly, the Hanover Band offers a performance with one player per part, and Arthur doubling as a continuo player and as soloist. For some listeners, this may be a state-of-the-art performance of Bach's keyboard concertos. For others, it won't work so well. For one thing, the Collegium Musicum theory is a matter of debate. The Brandenburg Concertos were written for a court setting with a larger orchestra and emulated Italian models that were for quite large groups, and it may be that these concertos were written for the Dresden court or another noble establishment. Even if the Collegium Musicum idea is accepted, Signum Classics' church sound is far from what would have been heard at Bach's Café Zimmermann in its small rooms fronting on the Katharinenstraße. Arthur does not draw a sharp differentiation between the harpsichord's continuo and solo roles, and the sound environment tends to swallow up the instruments. Nor is it certain that a harpsichord would have been the intended continuo instrument in a performance of this kind. Arthur seems to have been trying to create a bumptious, rhythmic sound that would have been appropriate in that setting, but the end result is an undifferentiated mass of sound, swimming in a church acoustic, that doesn't comport at all with the aims of the concerto genre. Whether it is the engineering or the conception that is at fault here may be debated; most likely, it is a combination of both.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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JS Bach: Harpsichord Concertos, BWV 1052, 1054, 1055 & 1058

Hanover Band

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1
Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052: I. Allegro
The Hanover Band
00:07:45

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

2
Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052: II. Adagio
The Hanover Band
00:06:20

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

3
Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052: III. Allegro
The Hanover Band
00:08:19

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

4
Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 in G Minor, BWV 1058: I.
The Hanover Band
00:04:18

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

5
Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 in G Minor, BWV 1058: II. Andante
The Hanover Band
00:06:11

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

6
Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 in G Minor, BWV 1058: III. Allegro assai
The Hanover Band
00:03:58

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

7
Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054: I.
The Hanover Band
00:07:57

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

8
Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054: II. Adagio e piano sempre
The Hanover Band
00:06:33

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

9
Harpsichord Concerto No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1054: III. Allegro
The Hanover Band
00:02:59

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

10
Harpsichord Concerto No. 4 in A Major, BWV 1055: I. Allegro
The Hanover Band
00:04:28

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

11
Harpsichord Concerto No. 4 in A Major, BWV 1055: II. Larghetto
The Hanover Band
00:05:44

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

12
Harpsichord Concerto No. 4 in A Major, BWV 1055: III. Allegro ma non tanto
The Hanover Band
00:04:28

The Hanover Band, MainArtist - Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - PUBLIC DOMAIN, MusicPublisher - Andrew Arthur, MainArtist

(C) 2022 Signum Classics (P) 2022 Signum Records

Album Description

J.S. Bach is often thought of as a conservative, but in one respect, he was anything but; his seven harpsichord concertos were the first instances of the keyboard concerto genre that has come down to the present day. Unlike with the Brandenburg Concertos, Bach's other great monuments in the concerto genre, there is considerable uncertainty about where, when, and for whom they were written. Harpsichordist Andrew Arthur, leading the Hanover Band historical performance ensemble, accepts a hypothesis that they were composed for use by the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, that they were essentially coffee house music to be performed by a small group. Accordingly, the Hanover Band offers a performance with one player per part, and Arthur doubling as a continuo player and as soloist. For some listeners, this may be a state-of-the-art performance of Bach's keyboard concertos. For others, it won't work so well. For one thing, the Collegium Musicum theory is a matter of debate. The Brandenburg Concertos were written for a court setting with a larger orchestra and emulated Italian models that were for quite large groups, and it may be that these concertos were written for the Dresden court or another noble establishment. Even if the Collegium Musicum idea is accepted, Signum Classics' church sound is far from what would have been heard at Bach's Café Zimmermann in its small rooms fronting on the Katharinenstraße. Arthur does not draw a sharp differentiation between the harpsichord's continuo and solo roles, and the sound environment tends to swallow up the instruments. Nor is it certain that a harpsichord would have been the intended continuo instrument in a performance of this kind. Arthur seems to have been trying to create a bumptious, rhythmic sound that would have been appropriate in that setting, but the end result is an undifferentiated mass of sound, swimming in a church acoustic, that doesn't comport at all with the aims of the concerto genre. Whether it is the engineering or the conception that is at fault here may be debated; most likely, it is a combination of both.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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