Bach - Violin Concertos (2010)


Rachel Podger, Brecon Baroque

The opportunity to spend three intensive days recording four Bach concertos is an uplifting experience. Each piece encompasses a unique expressive world where discovering the real essence of every movement becomes a kind of obsession! The concertos in A minor and E major are old friends. I’ve grown up with them and I played them a lot when young. The other two, in G minor and A major, were very familiar (as harpsichord concertos or in various transcriptions) – relations I knew reasonably well but not such close friends. It has been a delight to explore these pieces and renew acquaintance, first hand.

It's not easy to pick out personal highlights in these richly-endowed works but here are a few. It was an unusual pleasure bubbling along with the cascading arpeggios in the A major (normally played by the right hand of the harpsichord ) and contrasting that with the soulful melody beginning in the lower registers of the instrument in the opening solo entry. An extraordinary sense of exhilaration! In contrast, The A minor brings something totally different, a kind of symmetrical quality: the clarity of structure in the first movement, the sense of freedom in the slow movement and then coming back down to earth with the vivacious fugal gigue to end. The focus for the player here is about structure and pace, the building up of excitement throughout each sequence towards the climaxes.
The E major concerto is life-embracing and joyful in its larger scale. The expression in the contemplative slow moves between a deep sense of sorrow and tender hope; you can’t help reflecting on Bach’s humanity and the endless creative tools at his disposal. What might have moved him at that moment of his life? Rachel Podger
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Rachel Podger

Rachel Podger is one of the most creative talents to emerge in the field of period performance. Over the last two decades she has established herself as a leading interpreter of the music of the Baroque and Classical periods. She was educated inGermany and in England at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she studied with David Takeno and Micaela Comberti. After beginnings with The Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium, she was leader ofThe English Concert from 1997 to 2002 and in 2004 began a guest directorship with The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with whom she appeared in a televised bbc Prom in 2007.

As a guest director and soloist she has collaborated with numerous orchestras including Arte dei Suonatori (Poland), Musica Angelica and Santa Fe ProMusica (usa), The Academy of Ancient Music, The European Union BaroqueOrchestra, Holland Baroque Society, the Handel and Haydn Society (usa), Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (usa). Rachel has toured and recorded extensively with fortepianist Gary Cooper. Rachel records exclusively for Channel Classics and has won numerous prestigious awards including the Baroque Instrumental Gramophone Award for La Stravaganza in2003 and the Diapason d’Or de l’année in the Baroque Ensemble category for the LaCetra Vivaldi concertos with Holland Baroque Society in 2012.

Rachel directs her own ensemble, Brecon Baroque, with whom she has recorded Bach’s Violin Concertos, released in October 2010 to outstanding reviews. She is also Artistic Director of her own festival: the Brecon Baroque Festival. Rachel is an honorary member of both the Royal Academy of Music (where she holds the Michaela Comberti Chair for Baroque Violin) and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (where she holds the Jane Hodge Foundation International Chair in Baroque Violin) and teaches at institutions throughout the world.

Brecon Baroque

The dynamic ensemble Brecon Baroque was founded in 2007 by violinist Rachel Podger as resident ensemble at her annual Brecon Baroque Festival. The international line-up consists of some of some of the leading lights in the period-instrument world, such as cellist Alison McGillivray, flautist Katie Bircher, oboist Alexandra Bellamy and violist Jane Rogers, as well as some of Rachel Podger's “star” former students who now occupy leading positions in many of Europe's finest ensembles.

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Bach - Violin Concertos (2010)


Rachel Podger, Brecon Baroque


Rachel Podger hatte Spaß. (…) Die getragene Sätze bleiben immer spannend. Und die schnellen Sätze perlen leicht und flüssig daher, werden mit großem Melodiebogen wunderschön vorgetragen, sie atmen, sie pulsieren. Das ist eine ausgesprochen schöne Bachinterpretation geworden! CD-Tipp , March/April 2011

    Bayerischer Rundfunk

Rachel gehört seit vielen Jahren zu den profiliertesten Vertretrinnen der historischen Aufführungspraxis. Die Bach-Violinkonzerte präsentiert die in natürlichem Fluss und mit pulsierendem Atem. Eine ruhige, sympathische Originalklang-Interpretation.


Mit ihrem hier nur Sextettstarke aufweisenden Ensemble bietet Podger eine lustvolle, runde Interpretation. So souverän und selbstverständlich spiele nur die Großen, Rachel ist eine von ihnen. (...)

    Attlila Csampai

ein echter musikalischer Ohrenschmaus, der auch die heitere, menschliche, im besten Sinne unterhaltende Seiten des größten Mystikers der Musik in schönsten Farben ausleuchtet (...)

    Boston Globe

It features the light, focused sound of Podger’s baroque violin against the background of a period-instrument group consisting of two violins, viola, cello, bass, and harpsichord. Such a small-scale ensemble is nothing new in early-music circles, but the fluid, dynamic playing makes these very familiar pieces work well, especially the bracing outer movements.

    Early Music News

emotionally-charged playing, which carries with is nonetheless the authority of authenticity (…)

    Mid West Records

The winner and still champion of period music is Podger, her violin and her baroque ensemble associates. Making the most of modern recording techniques, this presentation is right in front of you providing the grandest virtual chamber music you can imagine. Up market and classy while still being accessible and classy, Podger is a wondrous player and focal point showing how she earned her stripes one bow swipe at a time. A winning work throughout, this is more than the real deal. Classical tourists as well as classical fans ought to take this to heart.


The performance of the four violin concertos here is quite elegant, pairing Podger with the select ensemble that has often come together at the Brecon Baroque festival Podger directs in Wales. (…) The playing is sensitive but dynamic, the pulse percolating and varied in weight, and Podger is generally up to her extraordinary best (…) Podger captures more of the dance-like character of the music. (…)

    Sunday Times

Its beautiful larghetto is very close in spirit and style to the sublime corresponding movement in the famous concerto in D. In these lively, one-instrument-to-a-part performances, they work well in this adaption, and Podgers’ lean, sinewy sound rises out of the ensemble shiningly.

    Audiophile Audition

The violin tone-both of Podger and the rest of her Brecon Baroque - is rich and silky-smooth, and the spatial placement of the performers is quite well reproduced in the surround option. The four concertos are quite different from one another - no danger of confusing them as with many of the Vivaldi or Corelli concertos. The A minor is compact but dense and fully worked out, with much more going on than the typical Venetian concerto. The tempi seem just right, not languorously pointing up every little Bachian element but also not rushing forward at such a breathless pace that the music fails to flow rationally. Recommended!


Podger biedt ons haar persoonlijke Bach-stijl zoals we die van haar eerdere opnamen kennen: uitstekend gearticuleerd, de frases mooi afgewogen, de dynamische contouren scherp neergezet en dit alles met een spiritueel elan dat zonder meer aanstekelijk werkt. Dankzij de klein gehouden bezetting mogen we genieten van de daaruit resulterende helderheid en definitie, waar overigens ook de opname stevig aan bijdraagt: we kijken als het ware dwars door het ensemble heen, zonder daarbij het overzicht op het geheel te verliezen. (…) (…) uitstekende vertolkingen die nog mooi zijn opgenomen ook. Zowel in stereo als in surround is het volop genieten geblazen: het soms sterk dansante karakter van de hoekdelen doet u misschien zelfs verleiden tot een rondedansje! Volgens mij is dit precies zoals Bach het bedoeld moet hebben.


Een opwindende confrontatie, zo omschrijft Rachel de kennisaking tussen haar oude vrienden en de nieuwe releaties. De wederzijdse betrokkenheid tussen Podger en haar ensemble spat van deze opname af.


Jamais l’influence de la musique italienne ne nous fut rendue si sensible que dans le largo du ‘Concerto en sol mineur’: la texture allégée des Brecon offre un écrin tout an pizzicato sur lequel évolue un violon arachnéen.

    Classics Today -

It’s a pleasure from first note to last. (…) a true “chamber concerto” experience, an exquisite dialog that the players clearly relish while preserving the essential contrast between solo and tutti on which the concerto form depends. Highest recommendation. 10/10

    International Record Review

Immensely enjoyable disc (…) The collective sense of style shown by Podger and her ensemble produces music making of inspiring vitality with light, transparent textures. This is an immensely enjoyable disc! The collective sense of styles shown by Podger and her ensemble produces music-making of inspiring vitality, with light, transparent textures and lively speeds (…)


“Small-scale concertos played with style and swing.” (...) a splendid supporting group whose playing is extremely stylish and well balanced (…) Podgers’ own playing is elegant and spirited, with pure tuning and fine, clear tone. It’s to her credit that she encourages her colleagues to play so positively (…)

    Tijdschrift Oude Muziek

Podger heeft een vloeiende speelstijl, waarin de technische capriolen zonder veel vertoon met de stroom meeglijden. Prachtig.

    BBC Music Magazine

“No one will go wrong with this invigorating album.” (…) Podger has one of the sweetest tones of any period-instrument violinist – heard at its most beautiful in the singing Andante of BWV 1041, wonderfully sustained but never cloying. The finale has an infectiously spritely bounce and exhilarating dramatic tension; despite the energetic pace, it manages to stay firmly on the rails thanks to the players’ formidable technique and musicianship.

    The Strad

full of live and character in her shaping of phrases, vivid but always natural (...) The central Largo reveals Podger's exquisite melodic gifts.


Podger is an outstanding interpreter of Bach. (...) Podger and her group create magical music making. The dynamism and insight this artist and group create is simply breathtaking.(...)

Bach - Violin Concertos (2010)


Rachel Podger, Brecon Baroque

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Grimm A/D DSD / Meitner DA
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Equipment: B&W 803 diamond series
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis custom design
Producer: Jonathan Attwood
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: London England 2010
Recording Software: Pyramix bij Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64
Speakers: Audiolab, Holland

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30910: Bach - Violin Concertos
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Concerto in A minor bwv 1041 - [Allegro]
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Concerto in A minor bwv 1041 - Andante
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Concerto in A minor bwv 1041 - Allegro assai
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Concerto in E major bwv 1042 - Allegro
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Concerto in E major bwv 1042 - Adagio
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