Bach: Keyboard Concertos – No 1 in D minor, BWV 1052; No 2 in E major, BWV 1053; No 3 in D major, BWV 1054; 4 in A major, BWV 1055; 5 in F minor, BWV 1056; 7 in G minor, BWV 1058; Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971

Reviewed on Mon 26 Feb, 2018

Sonya Bach is clearly an able pianist with a dexterity that allows her to dance across the keyboard, but on a modern Steinway her deliberate, inked-in approach robs these concertos for harpsichord of much of their crisp expressivity.

The young South Korean Sonya Bach makes an uneven debut on disc in the company of her illustrious namesake, JS Bach. She’s clearly an able pianist with a dexterity that allows her to dance across the keyboard, but on a modern Steinway her deliberate, inked-in approach robs these concertos for harpsichord of much of their crisp expressivity. It also serves to unnecessarily burnish their harmonic delicacy and pastel colouring while diluting the dynamic range. There’s an earnestness to Bach’s playing abetted by the underpowered accompaniment of the English Chamber Orchestra, faults left unchecked by the absence of a conductor (performances are led by John Mills and Stephanie Gonley). On the plus side, Bach’s finger work is flexible and fleet, and produces appreciable sparks in the insistent opening of the E major Concerto, and her slow movements have a delectably dreamy quality, especially liquid in the Italian Concerto. Recorded sound is sharp and clear, albeit the ECO a touch recessed.
–Michael Quinn