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American Record Guide: (07-08/2020) 
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Reviewer: Bradley Lehman

This lively recording was made in March 2019 in Toblach, a small town in the Italian mountains near the border of Austria. It's the same idyllic place where Gustav Mahler had a secluded cabin to compose his ninth symphony and Das Lied von der Erde—get out of  the cities and do great work. I suspect that most readers will already have as many recordings of the Bach concertos as they want, and played on whatever combinations of instruments they prefer to listen to (not necessarily harpsichords or pianos). The music is core repertoire everyone knows, and playing it is a standard test of professional dexterity and musicianship. Polished perfection is an assumed baseline, though not always delivered. So, why bother looking at another one?

This one is worth your attention and money. Francesco Corti and "The Golden Apple" make the music vivid and fresh. Ornamentation is moderate and sounds truly extemporaneous. When he inserts small pauses to set phrases apart, or tiny improvised cadenzas, the band alertly stays with him and in perfect unison with each other. There are some audible intakes of breath by either Corti or the concertmaster helping with the cohesion. The highest concentration of added notes is in the exhilarating finales of Concertos 2 and 7. Is all of this a rehearsed pseudo–spontaneity, or just great listening across the space? Many recordings of Bach's music are now made with only one string player per part, and I concur that it's a plausible historical solution. (Balance is sufficient, it would take extra time to copy out more parts, multiple copies of surviving parts are rare, and engaging extra players has always been a higher expense unless you can get them as unpaid amateurs.) This performance employs more instruments: 6 violins, 2 violas, a cello, a bass, and a second harpsichord. Lars–Ulrik Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen (CPO, M/A 2004 & J/F 2007) had yet a few more musicians than this, sounding similar. In Corti's recording of Concerto 4 it's easier to hear the harpsichord than it is in Mortensen's. That's partly Bach's fault for setting the melodic lines so low in the range. In 2017 and 2018 I reviewed some other recordings with smaller or larger orchestras than this. The longest overview of those was for one–per–part performances (N/D 2018). I've given up trying to judge what is "best" at levels of achievement this high for midsized orchestras (both Mortensen and Corti). Get Corti's and enjoy it as a beautiful celebration of perfect expertise. Play it loud and dance around your room. Watch for this band to get to Volume 2 with the remaining three or four concertos—assuming that the music world can someday get out of pandemic lockdown and back to playing this well for appreciative audiences.

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