Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Gardiner

Album cover art for upc 843183070725
Catalog: SDG707
Format: CD

English Baroque Soloists, conducted by Kati Debretzeni & John Eliot Gardiner

J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046 Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047 Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048 Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049 Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050 Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051

Wholenote Discoveries - July 2010
Rare is the list of essential classical recordings which does not include the Brandenburgs. What makes this interpretation stand out is not just the actual playing but also some thoughtful commentaries by the conductor and soloists on the challenges Brandenburg players face. From the start, this interpretation respects the instruments of Bach’s times. The horns of Anneke Scott and David Bentley are literally hunting horns, although never the “disruptive influence” she claims they are. All instruments blend into an enjoyable performance of Concerto No 1. The reviewer is a life-long lover of No 2, Bach’s allegro movements bringing out the best of baroque ensembles in general and the baroque recorder in particular. Rachel Beckett demolishes the idea that the recorder is a teaching instrument for children. So to No 3, best-known of the six. This recording is upbeat in the initial allegro, enhanced by a silvery quality to the strings which continues through the much-over-looked adagio to the second even more inspired allegro. Catherine Latham joins Rachel Beckett on recorder in No 4, reinforcing the virtuoso skills demanded of the instrument. The recorder conveys the plaintive tones of the andante, perhaps more poignantly than would the flute, which only makes its (belated) appearance in a subdued No 5. There is even an unsung heroine - viola-player Jane Rogers alone performs in all six concertos, saving her best for No 6. Her comments are worthy of the reflections published in this invigorating CD. Michael Schwartz
In between his Brahms Cycle, John Eliot Gardiner made a trip bach to Bach and recorded the Brandenburg Concertos. Let me preface this by saying I have never been a huge fan of the Brandenburgs, but that has all changed now. These are the Brandenburgs for me! Gardiner leads the English Baroque Soloists, which number more like a chamber ensemble, through a clean, crisp, jaunty performance. These are up tempo recordings with lots of energy. I have never heard Brandenburg No.2 played as fast, and as cleanly, as it is here. The fact that the trumpeter is using a natural trumpet only compounds my wonder at the clarity and precision of the playing. This is a defining recording for the Brandenburgs and sits at the top of the list for recordings of these pieces. A marvellous disc!
“You can hand the palm to Vivaldi for the mysterious pathos of [Bach's] slow movements and the surface brilliance of his foot-tapping rhythms, but when it comes to hitting a propulsive rhythmic groove, no-one is a match for JS Bach." - John Eliot Gardiner (excerpt from John Eliot Gardiner’s notes) • John Eliot Gardiner and his superb period-instrument chamber orchestra, English Baroque Soloists, record their unique interpretation of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos for the very first time. • Gardiner only conducts two of the six concertos. The responsibility of performing the remaining four is left to the hand-picked musicians of the English Baroque Soloists led by the brilliant, Kati Debretzeni, a true Konzertmeisterin and the inspirational presiding virtuoso of this project. • This recording follows a phenomenal 11-concert residency at the Spitalfieds Music Winter Festival in December 2008 and January 2009. John Eliot Gardiner led the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir in performances of JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Brandenburg Concertos and Motets. Every concert was well received by public and press alike, with standing ovations from the sell-out audiences and high critical acclaim: “Gardiner encouraged rampaging exuberance from his excellent horns, subtle dynamic variations from oboes and strings, and some unusually complex phrasing…delivered with such conviction.” – The Times • The six “Brandenburg” Concertos, described by Bach as ‘Concertos for several instruments’, are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque. Now considered a benchmark of Baroque music, the concertos still have the power to move people almost three centuries later. • The booklet includes a long note by John Eliot Gardiner entitled ‘A conductor-less slant on the Brandenburg Concertos’ and entries by each member of the English Baroque Soloists where they discuss their personal experience of recording the Brandenburg Concertos.

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