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Bach: Six Concertos Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Conductor: Trevor Pinnock
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (Dec 18 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Avie
  • ASIN: B000XJ1444
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
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Product Description

Ensemble Brandebourgeois Européen - Trevor Pinnock, direction

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For some of the most over-recorded works in anybody's catalogue, this particular set of Brandenburg Concertos is a breath of fresh air. The ensemble, under Pinnock performs with an electric zest giving Bach's works a life I never fully realized they had! Wonderful stuff!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9878a8d0) out of 5 stars 20 reviews
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
By Robert T. Martin - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In the booklet that accompanies this set, maestro Pinnock notes, " 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.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9845d384) out of 5 stars A fine improvement on Pinnock's already fine earlier recording Feb. 5 2013
By I. Giles - Published on
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.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9845d7bc) out of 5 stars Nice feeling, musical playing, and lovely recorded sound -- a winner Feb. 20 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
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.)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9845db7c) out of 5 stars They may even surpass Pinnock's first set April 3 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There was already a plethora of Brandenburg Concertos discs on the market before Trevor Pinnock recorded them for the first time with his English Concert in the Eighties. But his recordings rightly soared to the top of many critics' lists of recommendations for their vivacity, enthusiasm, authentic performance practices, and admirably clear sonics. So why would he convene an all-new cast of period-instruments performers in 2006-07 to rerecord them for Avie? My first thought was pretty cynical: I wondered if he didn't want to capitalize on the popularity of his earlier set to sell a new one to curious fans. Fortunately, my cynicism proved unfounded. These new Brandenburgs are sufficiently different and sufficiently better recorded to warrant a listen. Indeed, they may even surpass Pinnock's first set.

In the booklet notes, Pinnock explains that "eager to cut through any narrow conceptions of period style I invited players from different countries and of different generations to join my new voyage of exploration." With Pinnock directing from the harpsichord, the new performances appear more relaxed than his older ones, although never lax.

You remember that Bach's Brandenburg Concertos sound different from one another because the composer never meant them to be a cohesive group. Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg commissioned Bach to write several pieces for him, and what he got a few years later was a collection of six works for various-sized ensembles and various solo instruments that Bach had probably composed at various times for various other occasions. More or less.

Concerto No. 1 is among the longest of the Brandenburgs and arranged for the biggest ensemble. It is also my least favorite. Under Pinnock it is one of the most gently played and subdued renderings I've ever heard of the work. All seventeen of Pinnock's players become involved, the "hunting horns" rotating with solo violin for prominence in the movements. The dances in the final section flow gracefully, fluidly, regally, rather than knocking us on our head.

Concerto No. 2 is among the most popular of the pieces and highlights the oboe, recorder, violin, and trumpet, the latter getting in some good playing time. It is the bounciest of the six concertos, but unlike the breathless readings of some of Pinnock's rivals, this interpretation races forward at a leisurely pace, yet without ever losing its forward thrust or momentum. What's more, the slow middle movement sounds more wistful than ever.

Listeners probably know Concerto No. 3 as well as they know No. 2, maybe even more so. Here, Pinnock and his crew are lively and vibrant without being tiresome or stressful. More than in the other concertos, No. 3 is pure ensemble work, and the players work wonderfully well together, producing a single force. The brief second movement, improvised on violin, makes a fitting bridge to the sparkling Allegro that concludes the piece.

Concerto No. 4 is Bach's most playful, with the soloists darting in and out of the structure, Pinnock's team making the most of it in a winning display of virtuosity. However, the two recorders and the violin never overstay their welcome and present a happy and delightful compromise throughout the work. It's a sweet and lovely performance all the way around.

Concerto No. 5 is another of my personal favorites, highlighting solos from the violin, flute, and, unusually, harpsichord. One of the smallest ensembles, eight players, ensures a greater clarity of sound. Again, Pinnock emphasizes a lightness and grace in the work, things sometimes missing from his earlier account, as well as from most accounts in general. Nevertheless, the playing is skillful in the extreme and never fails to dazzle in its beauty, refinement, and execution.

While Concerto No. 6 is for me the least distinctive work of the set and uses the smallest ensemble, seven players, it doesn't feel small. It's only real deficiency is its similarity to Concerto No. 3, though taken at a much slower pace. Pinnock and his people offer as light a touch here as before, not giving up too much sparkle along the way.

The sound, which Avie recorded in 2006 and 2007 at the ballroom of the Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield, England, and at the Henry Wood Hall, London, is warmer and smoother than Pinnock's earlier sessions. As before, the players appear moderately close up, and the degree of transparency involved varies with the size of the ensemble and the location of the recording. Mostly, though, it is quite good, quite realistic, with enough ambient bloom to provide a feeling of one's being in the audience. It's an easy-listening sound rather than a distinctly audiophile one, and for this music it works beautifully.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9845db28) out of 5 stars Dynamic, dynamite Brandenburgs from Pinnock and his colleagues Sept. 24 2011
By Yi-Peng - Published on
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.