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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos 1-6 [Import]

Andreas Morell    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concert to delight the ears!!! March 28 2009
By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER
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"The Brandenburg concertos are the purest products of Bach's polyphonic style. Neither on the organ nor on the clavier could he have worked out the architecture of a movement with such vitality; the orchestra alone permits him absolute freedom in the leading and grouping of the obbligato voices."

The above quotation (by Albert Schweitzer) is found on the inner case containing this DVD that has not only the music of Johann Sebastian Bach's (1685 to 1750) six Brandenburg concertos or concerti but also shows the musicians creating this music.

These concertos are considered by many the most beautiful and best known from the Baroque period (1600 to 1750). Baroque composers produced two types of concerto: the solo concerto and the concerto grosso. The concerto grosso was based on the opposition between a small group of instruments (the concertino), and a larger group (the tutti or ripieno).

Bach captured the spirit of the concerto grosso, in which two groups vie with each other in what might be described as "sonorous flights of fancy," in his six Brandenburg Concertos. This set was written for presentation in 1721 to the Margrave (military governor) Christian of Brandenburg, Germany.

Here are the particulars for what's presented:

ENSEMBLE: Orchestra Mozart (created in Nov.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Tonic without the gin! July 10 2011
By David M. Goldberg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
Stephen Pletko has provided a very useful review that anyone contemplating a purchase of this DVD should read. But as I happen to disagree with him strongly on several important points, I hope that they will also read the present text. Those that don't may come to regret it. The key issue is whether you are looking for a minimalistic approach to this music, or a more full-blooded version; and whether you favour period instruments over their modern counterparts. Let us deal with the latter first. This is uniformly magnificent music, among the greatest orchestral masterpieces of all time. They deserve nothing but the best, in performers and in the instruments on which they perform. The sound here, especially from the strings, is thin and scrawny. It is not the fault of the players who, technically show tremendous skill and musicianship, but they are severely limited by their instruments in what they can achieve. I have no doubt that if Bach were alive today he would prefer to write for the modern orchestra, and would be greatly relieved to hear his work played accordingly. Going back to the first criticism, the situation is made worse by the sparseness of the players in any single concerto: as few as seven in No 6, and no more than 16 in any other, although Abbado had 19 strings available to him as well as 10 wind instruments. Seven players make up a septet, not an orchestra. They can make pretty sounds, but they can never achieve the texture and grandeur of a fuller ensemble. These works have been played in concert by some of the world's greatest symphony orchestras, and the results for me have been altogether more satisfying than the lean cuisine offered up here. Next, to Abbado himself. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Concert of all the Brandenburg Concertos Nov. 1 2008
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Claudio Abbado, surely one of the great conductors working today, formed a small orchestra, called Orchestra Mozart, in 2004. This group consists of several world-renowned instrumentalists and a number of exceedingly fine young players, mostly from Italy. Among the 'names' in the orchestra are Michala Petri, recorder; Giuliano Carmignola, principal violin; Reinhold Friedrich, trumpet; Jacques Zoon, flute; Alois Posch, bass; Alessio Allegrini, horn; and Ottavio Dantone, harpsichord. In their early seasons they concentrated on music by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert. But in 2007 they prepared all six of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and toured them throughout Italy, with concerts in Bologna, Ferrara, Pisa, Prato, Reggio Emilia, Venice, Modena, Verona and Bolzano. This DVD is a live recording of the April 21, 2007 concert they played in the visually gorgeous and acoustically excellent Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilia.

The players (except for cellos and harpsichord) stand for the performances. Consequently there is considerable swaying of bodies and generally greater animation of the instrumentalists. I mention this because in a visual medium like a DVD this makes for more engaging viewing. The video of this concert focuses almost entirely on the instrumentalists; we rarely see Abbado. I like this approach as I'm much more interested in what the players are doing. One does notice, though, that Abbado is conducting without score. And indeed he's not even conducting at all in the Sixth Concerto -- that's the one without violins; its group of seven players are truly a chamber ensemble.

The principals couldn't be better. I was immensely impressed, as I have been in other recordings, by Allegrini, who has to one of the finest horn players around. As well, I loved the blending of Petri's and Nikolaj Tarasov's recorders in the Second. That concerto was played last on the program -- the sequence was Concertos 1, 3, 5, 6, 4, 2 -- and in response to the enthusiastic applause of the audience, the group played the final Allegro assai of the No. 2 and this time Petri substituted a sopranino recorder for her usual instrument, a piquant touch. Carmignola's lickety-split violin obbligato in the opening Allegro of that concerto has to be seen and heard to be believed.

Dantone was superb in the supremely virtuosic harpsichord part in the Fifth Concerto. The audio didn't bring out the sound of his instrument as much as I would have liked, but I rather suspect it was true to the actual sound in the hall. And I did lean forward to hear it better, which one often actually does in live performances in my experience.

Abbado's approach with the concertos is to take them fairly briskly. He does fairly often slow down slightly for cadences but there is not much else in the way of tempo variation. Usually, frankly, I felt he set the opening tempo and then these excellent musicians played as chamber musicians would, making subtle adjustments to the playing of their colleagues. This is not a criticism of Abbado; rather it is a commendation of his lack of ego and his willingness to let his musicians play together in their own way.

I cannot recommend this DVD highly enough. Often, when I've listened to or attended concerts featuring all six of these works I've lost attention somewhere along the way. This time I was energized for the entire 100 minutes of the concert. (Indeed, as I write this I'm listening again to the delightful No. 2.)

Time: 100mins; Format: NTSC 16:9; Sound PCM Stereo, Dolby 5.1, DTS 5.1; Region: 0 (worldwide). The disc is also available in Blu-Ray format Johann Sebastian Bach: Brandenburg Concertos 1-6 [Blu-ray]

Scott Morrison
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A concert to delight the ears!!! March 27 2009
By Stephen Pletko - Published on Amazon.com
XXXXX

"The Brandenburg concertos are the purest products of Bach's polyphonic style. Neither on the organ nor on the clavier could he have worked out the architecture of a movement with such vitality; the orchestra alone permits him absolute freedom in the leading and grouping of the obbligato voices."

The above quotation (by Albert Schweitzer) is found on the inner case containing this DVD that has not only the music of Johann Sebastian Bach's (1685 to 1750) six Brandenburg concertos or concerti but also shows the musicians creating this music.

These concertos are considered by many the most beautiful and best known from the Baroque period (1600 to 1750). Baroque composers produced two types of concerto: the solo concerto and the concerto grosso. The concerto grosso was based on the opposition between a small group of instruments (the concertino), and a larger group (the tutti or ripieno).

Bach captured the spirit of the concerto grosso, in which two groups vie with each other in what might be described as "sonorous flights of fancy," in his six Brandenburg Concertos. This set was written for presentation in 1721 to the Margrave (military governor) Christian of Brandenburg, Germany.

Here are the particulars for what's presented:

ENSEMBLE: Orchestra Mozart (created in Nov. 2004 and consists of eminent chamber musicians and young instrumentalists)
CONDUCTOR: Claudio Abbado (who achieves the rare feat of ensuring that the performance has a common thread to it while at the same time allowing each top musician a chance to display his or her abilities to the fullest)
FEATURED PERFORMER: Giuliano Carmignola (who many say is the leading Baroque violinist of the present day)
RECORDED: Live at Teatro (theatre) Municipale Romolo Valli, Reggio Emilia (in Northern Italy)

These concertos are not presented in order but instead as follows:

(#1, #3 ,#5, #6, #4, and #2)

Concerto #3 is the shortest at about (10 minutes, 30 seconds) while concerto #5 is the longest at about (19 minutes). All concertos consist of three movements except #1 which consists of four.

Finally, the DVD (released Oct. 2008) is perfect in picture and sound quality. Technical specifications:

Picture format: NTSC, 16.9 anamorphic
Sound formats: LPCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Region code: 0

In conclusion, this is truly an unforgettable presentation of the Brandenburg concertos. Encore! Encore!!

(2007; 1 hr, 40 min; wide screen; 22 scenes)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't stop with just one March 4 2011
By John F. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This DVD is, for me, the auditory and visual equivalent of a bag of potato chips.

Don't think that you can open that bag of potato chips and have just one chip.

Don't think that you can put this DVD on and just watch one concerto.

Delightful performances, which I highly recommend.
4.0 out of 5 stars I need to reconsider DVD for smaller ensembles April 22 2012
By sergei kochkin - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I asked myself if I enjoyed this more than just listening to the CD. I think the answer is no. It was a lively performance with the principles standing, but I think this format is for the larger symphonies and concertos. As far as Claudia Abbado he seemed to be unnecessary and therefore I am glad he was kept out of sight. As one of the reviewers alluded is the conductor allowed to expand the ensemble. This music is so beautiful that I would have liked to have heard it with a tripled ensemble. If you love Bach by all means get this.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey! Who ordered the six brandenburgers? Well, pick up , Miss Priss! Oct. 5 2009
By J. Faulk - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I must confess, I ordered this DVD to check out the filming techniques of video director Andreas Morell, who received some badmouthing for his cropped takes and "rapid-fire" editing of the Caravaggio ballet. And just last week I told a friendly music customer that I really didn't care very much for the Brandenburgs.

So it was with some apprehension that I began playback of this Orchestra Mozart disc. In the second minute, I cringed and said to my Split Personality (S.P), "Oh dear, the six cameras must be strapped to the heads of hummingbirds darting about." S.P. chimed in, "And just listen to hairy Bach's rapid-fire counterpoint! It's screwing my internal oscillator. Gimme a cig." We made it through the 100 minutes and I thought, "It's unlikely I'll ever watch this again."

But as I slept the Blue Fairy glowed into my 1 1/2, touched each of my ears with her magic baton and said but softly, "Fantasia." The next day I pressed the Start button again and watched and listened. All was a joy! Twenty-nine down to earth musicians in familial synchronicity, coaxed so kindly by Grandpa Abbado, raining Bach's blessings on the summer meadows, woods, and villages of baroque Germany, France, and Italy. On all the nice people in the neo-classic Teatro Municipale di Reggio. On me, the repentant.

At the concert conclusion, the upper tiers shower the stage with yellow and white flowers, and roses with ribbon streamers. The musicians retrieve some of them, tucking one into the jacket pocket, the hair, even the trumpet mouthpiece. May I have some for Andreas Morell and his film crew? In my second viewing, not a shot, not a splice jagged me. Those guys caught the intense concentration of the music dedicatees, their un-self-conscious facial expressions and body language, their glances and smiles at each other. Here's a second hand rose, Andreas, for your mom's scrapbook.
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