Band bring colour and wit to Bach

Italian band Accademia Bizantina Ottavio Dantone add camp and colour and humour to 19 of Bach's sinfonias

Composer: Bach
Repertoire:  Sinfonias
Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Decca Classics 4782718

The Music: Bach wrote orchestral movements, or sinfonias, for only 21 of his 200-plus extant church cantatas. Accademia Bizantina perform 19 of them here.
 Pressure forced Bach to recycle. Look out
 for Brandenburg Concertos Nos 1 and 3, Keyboard Concerto No.5 and a wacky orchestral version of the Solo Violin
 Partita in E.

The Performance: The explosive opening (Cantata No.29) is camp, colourful and witty in the Italian band’s hands. Organist Demicheli toots out the solo on bright pipes at a controlled presto like a runaway train. Golden trumpets blare the alarm. The organ is prominent throughout the disc as solo
 or continuo, sombre in the contrasting second track, delicate under weaving flute and violin in Cantata No.182. Dantone touches all with a sense of fun – the gurgling hunting horns, the duck-like oboes, the heavy, unison raindrops of Cantata No.18
– which become infectious.

The Verdict: Although one takes fright at the repetitive track-listing – 19x Bach Sinfonia! – the differing orchestrations and moods maintain interest. The rarely heard items benefit significantly from Dantone’s attention.

Want More? Enjoy Accademia Bizantina’s wit in their Haydn Concertos recording (Decca Classics, 478 2243).