Bach concerto performance with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra in review

published in the Standard Times (New Bedford):

The second gem was Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Cembalo No. 4 in A Major, BWV 1055. For this segment the battery of wind and percussion players left the stage, leaving two dozen string players and one harpsichord, played by Paul Cienniwa, known locally for his mastery of his instrument and for his musical leadership of the NBSO Chorus. Before the concert, I put a similar question to Cienniwa, and he was quick to respond that the Larghetto (middle) movement of the Bach Concert No. 4 was unbelievable beautiful for its extremely long musical lines which weave so deftly when played at the proper tempo. He added that the outer movements were lovely, too, but that the middle movement stands out as an example of why Bach was so popular among 19th-century listeners who were beginning to become attracted to a more romantic style.

Cienniwa's performance of the three concise movements (Allegro-Larghetto-Allegro) was flawless. Maestro Mackenzie was able to mold the many strings to balance the subtly soft-plucked keyboard instrument through passages when one, then many, were meant to predominate. During this moment, a serendipitous shifting of clouds bought a shaft of warm, sweet evening light onto the stage - a coincidence which was not lost on the performers. From my vantage point I could not see a music holder on the keyboard, which led me to conclude that Cienniwa was playing from memory throughout. Afterwards I asked him if I were correct; his answer was “Oh, of course, with Bach there should be no other way.”


 The full recorded performance is on YouTube:

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