This set of the Brandenburgs is performed in authentic style but on modern instruments. Abbado seems to do little except set the tempo, leaving the skilled and highly experienced players to get on with the details of the performances - surely the best solution to having a conductor in such music and in such company. Indeed, in the 6th concerto Abbado is not present on the stage at all. No doubt there has been much discussion beforehand with an agreed approach. The recorded performance here was one of several held during a concert tour of Italy.
The most abiding impression left by this set of performances is the one of joy and exuberance. The tempi are all on the faster side and these make considerable demands upon the individual and corporate virtuosity of the players. This group of Abbado's Orchestra Mozart is well up to these demands with glances of pleasure passing between the players from time to time. There is also a strong sense of dance and this has a greatly positive effect throughout but especially for me in the first concerto which is the most enjoyable account I have ever heard. However, much the same can be experienced throughout the whole set of six concertos and, except for purists who may quibble with the use of modern instruments, this comes over as a very authentic set of performances - one that I am sure would have delighted Bach himself.
Although this is a 'live' set, any sense of an audience being present is avoided until the last item - the second concerto, which ends in applause and an encore of the last movement. This encore is given with a sopranino recorder being used instead of the lower-pitched, and more normally used, treble recorder which is used in the preceding complete concerto performance. Both are effective in their different ways. The trumpet's last note is raised somewhat further than Bach wrote but to good bravura effect - an effect I have not heard since Denis Clift, my own trumpet teacher, did the same on the old EMI Menuhin recording of about 1960.
The recording quality is excellent both sonically and visually. The imaging is both crisp and involving, vividly capturing the delight of the players. The sound is presented in PCM 5.1 and stereo.
This set, complete on one disc, is both generous and highly enjoyable. For many it will be tempting to think of it as close to definitive if such a description could possibly be made. It seems only reasonable that it should receive a full 5 star rating therefore.
Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:
I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)
I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)
I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Thank you (UK review)
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