Here is another Nimbus' re-releases from the Music Masters catalogue. Those unearthing efforts were warmly welcomed when they offered Vladimir Feltsman's spunky and thoroughly gratifying Goldberg Variations from 1991. Those efforts are also welcome when it comes to Feltsman's recording of the Bach Keyboard Concertos—wholly affable and with liner-notes by Tim Page.
Admittedly, there is no reason to replace Angela Hewitt's slightly more complete, and considerably more expensive, recording with Feltsman. But if you have none of these recordings and you see Feltsman's about, go ahead and grab it in the secure knowledge that you will have a very fine account at hand. Feltsman includes the 'standard 6', BWV 1052-1056 and 1057, but not BWV 1057, the modified Fourth Brandenburg and the incomplete BWV 1059 — and he adds a performance of the Italian Concerto. Much of what I said about Browning — tasteful, level-headed, technical efficacy — applies here, too, but at the other, upper end of the neutral-positive spectrum. The Orchestra of St. Luke's, conducted by Feltsman, turns in a very spirited performance. And although it's not a HIP band, their nimble forces and lissome playing make this 1993 recording sound modern which is to say: devoid of the 19th and 20th century romantic baroque opulence that had occurred here and there. Only in the opening Allegro of the F minor concerto (BWV 1056) is the orchestra minimally heavy-footed; everywhere else tempos strike lively and natural. Terrific stuff that makes for happy listening.
Jens F. Laurson, Musicweb-international.com
Feltsman’s touch is very deliberate, delicate, and of weightless elegance in the aria, though never ‘precious’. Very early on it becomes clear that Feltsman plays Bach more as if he were on a harpsichord than any pianist I have heard, but he doesn’t do it in the Gould way of trying to make the piano sound like the harpsichord it isn’t. No repeat is exactly as the first – there are always changes in registration, ornamentation, or voicing – sometimes all of them together. That can sound idiosyncratic, even here, but sufficient musical sensibility and taste prevent the playing from ever becoming a display of wayward vulgarity.
Reviewing The Goldberg Variations. NI 2507
Jens F. Larson – musicweb-international.com