Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D minor (or for 2 oboes & organ or for violin) BWV 1052
Harpsichord Concerto No. 2 in E major (or for oboe d'amore in F major) BWV 1053
Harpsichord Concerto No. 4 in A major (or for oboe d'amore) BWV 1055
Murray Perahia began recording Bach's music only recently, and for that development we should all be grateful. Renowned for his graceful, limpid performances of Mozart and the Romantic piano repertoire, in recent years Perahia, who suffered a serious hand injury, has delved whole-heartedly into the less physically taxing world of Bach, delivering his distinctive take on the six English Suites and a Grammy-nominated reading of the Goldberg Variations. This time out he turns away from Bach's solo keyboard music and joins the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in performances of three of the Baroque master's concertos for keyboard and orchestra. All the hallmarks we have come to expect from a Perahia performance are here: delicacy of touch, beauty of tone, and a degree of musical refinement that is rarely heard. As in his cycle of the Mozart piano concertos, Perahia conveys emphasis through understatement, through the just-so placement of a note. Here the concertos are all consistently well performed, with a finely calibrated balance between orchestra and piano. The slow middle movements, however, best highlight Perahia's singular melodic touch through lovely, fluid playing of Bach at his lyrical best. The orchestra, taking its cues from Perahia, who conducts at the piano, accompanies with sensitivity and finesse to match. For those purists who disdain hearing Bach performed on the piano (the instrument as we know it did not exist in his day): If Perahia can't win you over, no one can. For those who need no convincing, you'll find the pianist once again in fine form and, like this listener, will eagerly await the next Bach installment.