Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, etc.

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, etc.

by Benjamin Britten
     
 

Composers in Bach's day made their living writing music for royalty, nobility, and the church. Johann Sebastian played for the Margrave of Brandenburg during one of his visits to Berlin and was invited to send some along of his compositions. Hoping to be awarded some sort of royal patronage, he went back home to Cöthen, compiled this set of six concertos,… See more details below

Overview

Composers in Bach's day made their living writing music for royalty, nobility, and the church. Johann Sebastian played for the Margrave of Brandenburg during one of his visits to Berlin and was invited to send some along of his compositions. Hoping to be awarded some sort of royal patronage, he went back home to Cöthen, compiled this set of six concertos, copied it -- by hand, of course -- into a lavish manuscript copy suitable for such an important presentation, then sent the package off to Berlin, probably by the German equivalent of the pony express. The Margrave almost certainly never had these concertos played, and what's worse, the composer never received a penny for his troubles. But how much richer we are for Bach's efforts. In the richly woven intricacy of their counterpoint and in the vividness and variety of their instrumentation, the Brandenburgs stand out from the huge heap of Baroque concertos -- and these characterful performances by Benjamin Britten and the English Chamber Orchestra stand out from the huge heap of Brandenburg recordings on the market. Each of these works is scored for a different set of instruments, which colors the character of the music itself: the whooping hunting horns of the Concerto No. 1, for example, and the sonorous, sinuous lines of the Concerto No. 6, written for an ensemble comprised of lower strings (without violins). Britten and his band bring out a musical rainbow of colors, while exuding an emotional warmth and interpretive wisdom that is rarely found in performances of Baroque music today.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Considering the vast array of recordings available of Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos" -- ranging from modernized performances by large ensembles to historical re-creations on original instruments in smaller numbers -- some listeners may seek a good compromise that simply does justice to the music without fussing about authenticity. Benjamin Britten's interpretations of the "Brandenburgs" occupy a middle ground between extremes, and these tasteful performances should satisfy all but the most partisan advocates of one performance practice over the other. Informed by the musicological discoveries of the 1960s in terms of rhythmic nuances and appropriate ornamentation, Britten's performances are rich with Baroque inflections without sounding unnaturally contrived. The scaled-down English Chamber Orchestra is lean, but the ensemble plays with all the warmth and resonance its modern instruments afford and avoids the pitfalls of experimenting with untried and temperamental Baroque instruments, all too common and painful in early music efforts of the time. As an added inducement, this London double decker also contains fine performances by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields of the "Concerto for violin, oboe, and strings in D minor" and the "Concerto for flute and strings in G minor," both reconstructions based on two of Bach's harpsichord concertos.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/16/1995
Label:
Decca
UPC:
0028944384727
catalogNumber:
443847
Rank:
5395

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F major, BWV1046  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Benjamin Britten  -  English Chamber Orchestra  - Ifor James  - Anthony Randall  - Peter Graeme  - Emanuel Hurwitz
  2. Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F major, BWV1047  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Benjamin Britten  -  English Chamber Orchestra  - Richard Adeney  - Peter Graeme  - David Mason  - Emanuel Hurwitz
  3. Brandenburg Concerto No 3 in G major, BWV1048  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Benjamin Britten  -  English Chamber Orchestra
  4. Brandenburg Concerto No 4 in G major, BWV1049  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Benjamin Britten  -  English Chamber Orchestra  - Philip Ledger  - Richard Adeney  - Norman Knight  - Emanuel Hurwitz
  5. Brandenburg Concerto No 5 in D major, BWV1050  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Benjamin Britten  -  English Chamber Orchestra  - Richard Adeney  - Philip Ledger  - Emanuel Hurwitz
  6. Brandenburg Concerto No 6 in B flat major, BWV1051  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Benjamin Britten  -  English Chamber Orchestra
  7. Concerto for 2 harpsichords & strings in C minor (or for oboe & violin in D minor), BWV 1060: for oboe & violin  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Neville Marriner  - Christopher Hogwood  - Nicholas Kraemer  - Tess Miller  -  Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields  - Carmel Kaine
  8. Harpsichord Concerto No. 5 in F minor (or for oboe or violin in G minor) BWV 1056  - Johann Sebastian Bach  - Neville Marriner  -  Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields  - William Bennett  - Christopher Hogwood  - Nicholas Kraemer  - Jeremy Tilston

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