J.S. Bach

Complete Keyboard Concertos

Performed by Julia Zilberquit and Moscow Virtuosi, Salius Sondeckis, conductor

[Warner Classics, 2 CDs]

Three and a half stars

Bach’s keyboard concertos are a joy, with their athleticism, primary colors and prolonged, percussive keyboard interludes that sound like rock solos. The Concerto No. 1 in D Minor is the most famous. It seems to have the most unity of purpose, it has tremendous themes and, well, we just know it better, so it’s the easiest to love. The other concertos, though, can be just as much fun, and Julia Zilberquist brings out their irrepressible energy.

The disc also includes two Vivaldi violin concertos that Bach arranged as organ concertos and Zilberquit, in turn, adapted as piano concertos. The A minor violin concerto Bach borrowed is relatively famous; I knew it. I think it was the opening theme when I was a kid and WHLD in Niagara Falls had a classical music show. Like the Bach concertos, it’s a grabber from the word go.

It’s interesting to reflect on what Bach admired in this music and what he might have borrowed from Vivaldi, eight years or so older than he. The ingenious filigree of the Vivaldi A minor concerto, for instance, seems to echo in the great Bach concertos, written later.

– Mary Kunz Goldman