It's hard to believe this CD was done with only a violin, viola da gama and harpsichord. This is polyphonic music at its finest. It does tribute to Buxtehude, who preceded Bach. The ensemble is perfect - the instruments complement each other. When they go from slow to fast, it is remarkable to hear the contrast. These are expert musicians with a complete mastery of their instruments. They use loud-soft as easily as any masters of the Baroque. The result is joyous, lively and entertaining.
Towards the end of his life, Johann Sebastian Bach made a second collection of concertos, these for keyboard. Around 1738 he put this together, possibly as a way of publicizing his work with the Leipzig Collegium , or possibly with an eye towards publishing them. The six works are all somewhat eclectic since they seem to have been transcriptions of works for other instruments, as the informative booklet notes by soloist Aapo Häkkinen state. There are other sources in the Bach archives, so how he put them together can more or less be traced, and in recording these, Häkkinen and his Helsinki Baroque Orchestra have decided that they would be split into two volumes.
In 2012, too, there are prominent treasures to be found: Aapo Häkkinen plays Bach’s Concertos for solo harpsichord and strings – the crown jewels of the harpsichord and piano literature – on a 16’ harpsichord, that is to say, an instrument with an additional, very low sounding register. Although Bach probably used a similar harpsichord himself, this is the first recording of this cycle of works on an instrument of this kind built in a historical manner!
"His interpretation of appoggiaturas in the Aria is likely to raise a few eyebrows, and not everyone will like the adoption of a chirpy and most unmajestic staccato in the French overture. But I do hope he does not lose the pertness he shows in Var. 27 and the crisp humour of his Var. 22; and the extra embellishments he allows himself on repeats are remembering Koopman's distractingly fussy ornaments on Erato/RCA) neat and natural-sounding." Grammophone, October 1989
After decades during which the unaccompanied violin sonatas and partitas of Bach stood alone, regarded by all but specialists as rather freakish musical occurrences, recent years have seen a growth of interest in the virtuoso violin repertory of the Baroque. Composers like Biber, Pisendel, and Tartini have all shown up with increasing frequency on concert programs and recordings.
Lars Ulrik Mortensen is best known as a harpsichordist active largely in Baroque solo and chamber music repertory. But his career is quite multifaceted: he has regularly conducted both instrumental and operatic works and has taught harpsichord and historic performance practices at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich. He has often appeared in concert as accompanist to singer Emma Kirkby and has regularly partnered violinist John Holloway and cellist Jaap ter Linden.
Dietrich Buxtehude is probably most familiar to modern classical music audiences as the man who inspired the young Johann Sebastian Bach to make a lengthy pilgrimage to Lubeck, Buxtehude's place of employment and residence for most of his life, just to hear Buxtehude play the organ. But Buxtehude was a major figure among German Baroque composers in his own right.