American Record Guide

Bach wrote seven of these keyboard concertos, all around 1738 in Leipzig. There is no evidence that they were composed earlier, as musicologists have posited; and there is no evidence that they were violin concertos originally (except one of them, the G minor). Mr Seivewright in his notes scolds the musicologists for “spectacularly lazy and doctrinaire thinking”. Finally a musician who will stand up to that crowd!

Naturally he plays these with the full resources of the piano and of human emotion. Emotionless baroque performances are not for him – and not for me! These sound very much the way Mozart piano concertos sounded in the great days of recordings. There are lots of nuances and subtleties, plenty of poetry and expression. If he is right about these works, they were not the first keyboard concertos but were preceded by some of CPE Bach, the composer’s son. And if that is so, his spirit probably affected them – and Bach was not tentatively seeking out new territory but instead enhancing something that already existed – as was typical of him.

Nor do the Scottish Baroque Soloists play on period instruments in strict period style; they are far better than that. They are a small and rather nimble group, and I would prefer a warmer, fuller, more “orchestral” sound; but they do not irritate the ears by scraping their strings, though there are many moments where more vibrato would have helped. By the way, they include a guitar.

So this amounts to a compromise: a principled and knowledgeable rebellion against musicological “orthodoxy” but not a complete break. As such, it may appeal to some of our readers. Very good sound – not too close-up.

—Donald Vroon