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New Bach Recordings: Mortensen's Harpsichord Concertos

available at Amazon
Bach, Harpsichord Concertos, Vol. 2, L. U. Mortensen, Concerto Copenhagen

(released on February 27, 2007)
cpo 777 248-2

available at Amazon
Vol. 1

Online scores:
BWV 1055 BWV 1056
BWV 1057 | BWV 1058
On the question of Bach's keyboard concertos, as already stated in my review of David Fray's new recording earlier this week, my inclinations would lead me to recommend first the older but still fresh complete set by Trevor Pinnock, now at a heavily discounted price and with harpsichord and historical instruments. For a middle way between the chamber orchestra forces used by Pinnock and the very pleasing, more or less one-per-part approach of Café Zimmermann and Céline Frisch, there is the Lars Ulrik Mortensen set, completed a couple years ago and available only as two separate CDs. Mortensen plays the solo parts, on a Colin Booth instrument built in 1996 as a copy of Mietke, and directs the even more reduced strings (4-4-2-2-1) of the Concerto Copenhagen (CoCo, for short).

Mortensen, who played the third harpsichord part in Pinnock's recordings of the concertos for three and four harpsichords, is a capable and stylish player whom we last reviewed live at the Library of Congress just last year. (Jens also gave a thumbs up to his disc of little-known concertos by Palschau and Schulz, also with CoCo.) Some of the overall best sound is BWV 1057 (a reconfiguration of the fourth Brandenburg Concerto), with mellow, hooty sound from Bolette Roed and Marit Ernst Bock on the recorder parts, although Mortensen's 16th notes get a little logy in the cadenza the third movement. It is a pleasing set, with beautiful, balanced playing from all involved, but in terms of price and completeness, the Pinnock set is hard to beat.


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