Bach: Brandenburg Concertos

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
Musica Antiqua Köln - Reinhard Goebel
Archiv 423 116-2 A H2 (2 CDs)


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750):
Brandenburg Concertos:
- n.1 in F major BWV 1046 (corno da caccia I/II, oboe I-III, bassoon, piccolo violin; strings; b.c.)
- n.2 in F major BWV 1047 (trumpet, recorder, oboe, violin; strings; b.c.)
- n.3 in G major BWV 1048 (violin I-III, viola I-III, cello I-III; b.c.)
- n.4 in G major BWV 1049 (violin, recorder I/II; strings; b.c.)
- n.5 in D major BWV 1050 (flute, violin, harpsichord; strings; b.c.)
- n.6 in B flat major BWV 1051 (viola I/II, viola da gamba I/II, cello; b.c.)
Triple Concerto in A minor BWV 1044 (flute, violin, harpsichord; strings; b.c.)

Playing time: 106'23

Performers: Reinhard Goebel (violin, piccolo violin, viola); Manfred Krämer, Andrea Keller, Werner Ehrhardt, Gustavo Zarba, Mary Utiger, Paula Kibildis, Petra Müllejans, Florian Deuter (violin); Hajo Bäß, Karlheinz Steeb, Christian Goosses (viola); Phoebe Carrai, Christina Kyprianides, Philipp Bosbach (cello); Christina Kyprianides, Colette Harris (viola da gamba); Jonathan Cable (violone); Andreas Staier, Thierry Maeder (harpsichord); Friedemann Immer (trumpet); Wilbert Hazelzert (flute); Michael Schneider, Sabine Bauer (recorder); Hans-Peter Westermann, Michael Niesemann, Piet Dhont (oboe); Michael McCraw (bassoon); Andrew Joy, Rafael Vosseler (corno da caccia).

Recording date: 6/1986 (BWV 1046-1048), 2/1987 (BWV 1049-1051) and 6/1987 (BWV 1044).

Comments: Assembled for the Margrave of Brandenburg, the date "den 24 Mar. 1721" on a dedicatory note of the autograph manuscript is just a terminus ante quem to the concertos that Bach composed in Weimar and Cothen previously. Possibly never played at the Margrave, whose small orchestra was not able to do so, it is a piece of historical irony that the most famous of all baroque concertos do not follow the pattern of baroque concerto as developed by Antonio Vivaldi in the second decade of XVIII century, specifically in respect to their extremely varied instrumentation. Bach reused their music in the sacred cantatas BWV 52 and BWV 172 and in the secular cantata BWV 207 (also recorded by Goebel in Secular cantatas), and made an arrangement of the fourth for the harpsichord (BWV 1057). Goebel played some years ago a version of BWV 1049 with horn instead of trumpet, of which I could not find any trace.

The recording is a very extrovert and festive rendition of these concertos. Breathtaking for its fast tempi and instrumental virtuosity, the performance is clearly characterized by words of Goebel at the end of his notes, in a striking portrait of himself: "The autograph score speaks a perfectly clear language: astringent, rough, surprising and sometimes unlike anything else, grandiose and startling." It is adored by some people (me among them) and hated by others. In any case it is a "must-know", one of the great recordings of these concertos and one of great recordings of Musica Antiqua Köln, at the peak of its virtuosity, as recognized by Goebel himself in a recent interview for the French magazine Diapason: "Each generation of MAK has its own qualities. The second one was an exceptional time of change, of emulation, and almost fight. The virtuosity of the musicians was extraordinary - one had not found it in a baroque ensemble before. This was a time of our beginning as an orchestra. However, such a team, with its very strong personalities, has destroyed itself in some years. But all have survived, and that is the essential."

Reissued at mid-price as a part of the box "Bach & seine Zeit" (Archiv 459 361-2 A X10 (10 CDs)). Also reissued (without the Triple Concerto) in the "Archiv Masters" series (Archiv 447 287-2 A MA (1 CD) and Archiv 447 288-2 A MA (1 CD)), together with Overtures n. 1 and 4 from Four Overtures, and in the Deutsche Grammophon "Panorama" series (Deutsche Grammophon 469 103-2 G P2 (2 CDs)), together with Bach concertos BWV 1041, 1052 & 1065 by Trevor Pinnock and his English Concert. A recent reissue is in the "Archiv Collectors Edition" (Archiv 471 656-2 A B8 (8 CDs)), with the complete Four Overtures and Kammermusik records.

Based upon the original work of Maurizio Frigeni.

Some other recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos:

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
Le Petite Bande - Sigiswald Kuijken
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77308 (2 CDs)
Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
Tafelmusik - Jeanne Lamon
Sony Vivarte 66298 (2 CDs)
Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
Academy of Ancient Music - Christopher Hogwood
L'Oiseau Lyre 414 187 (2 CDs)
Bach: Les Six Concerts de Brandebourgeois
Le Concert des Nations / La Capella Reial de Catalunya - Jordi Savall
Astrée 8737 (2 CDs)
Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
New London Consort - Philip Pickett
L'Oiseau Lyre 440 675 (2 CDs)

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Eduardo Kickhöfel