This is an elite group of players, with cellist Alison McGillivray and violist Jane Rogers among the solo strings in the ensemble. Rachel Podger, very much primus inter pares, interweaves with her colleagues, seeming at times in duet with the first violinist, dominating only because Bach wrote it that way. Her playing is quite wonderful, full of life and character in her shaping of phrases, vivid but always natural, with an eloquent discursiveness in Bach’s melodic musings, providing in passing a masterclass in bowing technique.
The finale of the A minor Concerto, taken at a blazing pace, is a true virtuoso display; in contrast, the slow movement of the E major work metamorphoses into pure chamber music. In the G minor and A major works the players have followed Bach’s own practice of rearranging his concertos for different instruments. Although both are now known as harpsichord concertos, the A major apparently started life for the oboe d’amore, and lies relatively low on the violin, and the G minor (originally in F minor) was written for oboe. The central Largo reveals Podger’s exquisite melodic gifts. The recording is close and clean.