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Bach: Six Concertos [Import]

Johann Sebastian Bach , Trevor Pinnock , European Brandenburg Ensemble Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 31.26 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Ensemble Brandebourgeois Européen - Trevor Pinnock, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow Feb. 3 2008
By Robert T. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
In the booklet that accompanies this set, maestro Pinnock notes, "...in 1982 I stood in awe of Bach's discipline and order, today I relish his sense of daring and musical subversion. Eager to cut through any conceptions of period style I invited players from different countries and of different generations to join my new voyage of exploration." I don't know about "subversive" but these performances do bring out Bach's wide emotional range from the sunlit joy of Concerto # 2 to the shady restraint of # 5. This set caused me to rethink these masterworks which is quite an accomplishment for pieces that we tend to take for granted and listen to on autopilot.
There are dozens of recordings of the Brandenburgs available but if you have room for one more please give this beauty a try.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice feeling, musical playing, and lovely recorded sound -- a winner Feb. 20 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The world isn't dying for another good reading of the Brandenburgs, but here's a fine one. I was especially impressed that everyone plays in tune and with real style. Pinnock leads a band of musicians who make you feel this music, not stand apart and admire it form a distance. Accusations of being too emotional aren't likely to apply; the day is long past when "authentic" meant dry and academic. Tempos adhre to a lively average that's extreme in no direction. Now that period performance has conquered the Baroque field entirely, mature interpretations are emerging that can compete with great musicians like Casals and Menuhin whose style seems outdated but at no cost to their musicality.

For a long time I kept Benjamin Britten's famous Brandenbugs on the shelf as my reference, even though it wasn't in period style (modern instruments were emplyed). I think I can safely put it aside for this new set, which is totally satisfying even to holdouts like me. Avie's sound is close up and beautiful (As usual, the harpsichord is miked larger than life but not egregiously so.)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine improvement on Pinnock's already fine earlier recording Feb. 5 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
For many lovers of this famous music, Pinnock's earlier set of some 25 years ago has remained a benchmark recording. However, Pinnock has felt the need to revisit this work with the intention of celebrating all the advances made in both understanding and performing skills made in the intervening years. This recording made in 2007 was also an opportunity for him to celebrate his own sixtieth birthday.

For this project he drew together an ensemble of players of varying ages and at the peak of their profession in terms of Baroque music playing under the title of the European Brandenburg Ensemble. The intention was to illustrate Bach's 'daring and musical subversion' as opposed to his 'discipline and order.'

The most controversial choice made for this recording concerns the deep bass and which version of the violone to use. The choice lay between the 16 foot and the 8 foot instrument with the 16 foot adding greater depth. In the event, the decision was made to use the 8 foot version for concertos 2, 4, 5 and 6 and the 16 foot version for concertos 1 and 3. This is based on research and consequent opinion put forward by Peter McCarthy. Previously the 16 foot version would commonly have been used for all the concertos so this decision may disconcert some listeners.

In general terms the concertos are played at a faster tempo than in the previous set and, markedly, with a far greater sense of dance. This dance element is an important difference as it brings an altogether lighter and more joyful feel to the music making.

The players are all capable soloists in their own right but, as a previous trumpet player I feel that special mention must be made of David Blackadder's playing in concerto 2 and I also appreciate the fine horn playing throughout concerto 1. Pinnock also shines once more on the harpsichord in concerto 5. The other fine soloists are the recorder players, Robert Ehrlich and Antje Hensel, the oboist Katharina Spreckelsen, flautist katy Bircher and the violinist Kati Debretzeni.

The 2007 recording by Avie is excellent with good range and a warmer but realistic tone quality than can happen in baroque music recordings.

I would suggest that this is an outstanding version of these concertos and an improvement of the earlier set, fine though it undoubtedly was and still is. There can never be an outright best set in works such as these, but this set deserves to be seriously considered either as an 'only' purchase or as part of a collection of versions.

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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...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite fine Sept. 26 2009
By Prescott Cunningham Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Pinnock's new Brandenburg set emphasizes function over form, and I can hardly criticize him for that. In the Fourth, he really highlights the triplet figures in the horns as well as the timbral nuisances from the consort of wind players. The recorders in the Fourth have a simply gorgeous tone, showing how far period bands have come. And the sinewy, gutty strings in the Third and Sixth are both "authentic" but tonally satisfying. Indeed, the latter, taken at a spirited tempo, as the modern trends dictate, is particularly fine, Pinnock and his players really showcasing Bach's wonderful polyphonic writing.

Still, which these pieces certainly aren't as heavy as the Passions, I would have liked a tad more weight in the Fifth, where Pinnock's moderate tempo and the somewhat soft-edged playing from the various soloists makes this performance sounds slightly diffuse, where more incisive playing and stronger attacks would have made this performance self-recommending.

Despite this, it is nice to hear Bach played with élan and joy (God forbid it sound as if performers actually enjoy playing this music) rather than sounding like the academic-exercise of so many other performances. And, as no music collector can have only one set of the Brandenburg concertos, I can imagine few listeners not enjoying these releases, even if others like Harnoncourt or Alessandrini, for example, deliver slightly more edge (at the expense of emotional warmth) in this music.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dynamic, dynamite Brandenburgs from Pinnock and his colleagues Sept. 24 2011
By Yi-Peng - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
There have been countless Brandenburg cycles over the years. Of these countless recorded cycles this Pinnock offering is one of the most dynamic offerings of these concertos. I have great affection for Pinnock's previous DG recordings with the English Concert. On listening to this new set I'm confident to say that this new cycle is so much more outgoing and engaging compared to the reserve of the previous cycle.

From the get-go in the First Concerto one senses that this Brandenburg cycle is a very gutsy offering. By this I mean that the performances on this cycle are very outgoing. Pinnock generally adopts fast tempi but they hardly sound rushed. Every soloist seems to play with all his (or her) heart and everyone relishes their solo turns. The horns in the First Concerto are full-throated and rasping, and conjure up the hunting atmosphere of this piece. Elsewhere I admire David Blackadder's superb trumpeting in the Second Concerto. I also admire the interaction between players throughout these performances, especially in the Third, Fourth and Sixth concertos. The performances of these concertos conjure up the feel of a dialogue as the players respond better to each other. And of course Pinnock does an excellent harpsichord turn in the Fifth Concerto, interacting with the flautist and the violinist and navigating that all-important first-movement cadenza with ease and panache.

I admire the lighter feel of this version because of the lighter bass line. I thought it makes the music trip along more lightly. Also it makes the textures much clearer. The recording quality is excellent too and aids the clearer textures.

To sum up, this is a superb recent Brandenburg cycle and it's well worth the money.

I would also like to recommend the Monica Huggett recordings of the Orchestral Suites, also on Avie. Both recordings strike me as progressive Bach recordings, and they give us marvellous performances of these core works.

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