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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos/Brandenburgische Konzerte/Los Concertos Brandebourgeois

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

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Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln recorded the Brandenburgs in 1986-87 in a style that one can refer to only as punk Baroque. Their readings are characterized by slashing accents, missing articulations, a de-emphasis of melody, and an overemphasis of metrical pulse, with an attendant exaggeration of Bach's otherwise wonderfully enlivening syncopations. Occasionally, the most peculiarly anachronistic cadential ritards get thrown in as well. The result has all the charm of an antipersonnel mine. For an idea of what their "extreme" Bach sounds like, listen to the first movement of Concerto No. 6, which Goebel and his gang take so disastrously fast, it's laughable (they dispatch it in 4:25, compared with Boston Baroque's by no means poky 6:10). Makes you want to reach for your brass knuckles. --Ted Libbey
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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3:37
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2
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3:08
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3
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4:01
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4
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7:32
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5
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4:33
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6
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3:19
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7
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2:35
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8
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5:06
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9
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3:50
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10
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6:11
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3:19
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12
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4:15
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Disc 2
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9:46
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2
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5:44
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3
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5:03
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4
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4:25
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5
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4:11
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6
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4:50
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7
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8:11
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8
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5:04
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9
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6:43
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Product Details

  • Performer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Musica Antiqua Köln, Reinhard Goebel
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Polygram Records
  • ASIN: B0000057D4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,164 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Why does Mr. Goebel play his violin so fast, daddy?
Because he can, son.

I suppose that's not an adequate answer. Most of the negative reviews of this performance express outrage at Goebel's tempi, but in fact the only movements of the six Brandenburg Concertos that might be considered abnormally fast are the second of #3 and the first of #6. Otherwise Goebel sets consistently playable tempi, with maximum contrast between the allegros and the adagios. To my ear, the breakneck fiddling on the allegro of #3 sounds authentically thrilling; anyone would have to admit that it's very well played. Concerto #6 isn't my favorite. It has been nicknamed "The Scrub Board" and Goebel chooses to exaggerate its gruffness, not only in tempo but also in bowing technique. I would wager it's not his favorite, either.

What's so darn good about Bach, anyway? Some people may never know. To really appreciate Bach, you need to hear all the voices - all the lines - simultaneously. It's a listening skill not everyone has, and an intellectual mode of listening more than an emotional one. Not that Bach can't be appreciated emotionally! That would be an absurd assertion. But to really hear Bach, you need to follow the counterpoint instinctively, to make sense of three, four, five instruments in a conversation where they all play at once. That's what's so very darn good about Musica Antiqua Koeln's performance of the Brandenburgs: all the lines speak clearly. The precision and balance of the ensemble creates an astonishing musical transparency. I know the Brandenburgs very well; I've played the bassoon and recorder parts in concert. I've been buying and listening to new recordings of them since I was a teenager in the 1950s.
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Format: Audio CD
I regard as preposterous the notion that the performer must completely subjugate his/her virtuosity to the putative sanctity of a secular piece. Rather, the player must drive the performance as a gentleman leads his dance partner - with a measured balance of aplomb and audacious verve. This is especially true when both dancers are equally excellent and worthy of each other.

This was (thankfully) my first Brandenburg recording to bond with. Having heard other Brandenburgs here and there, I did have a sense that these were sprightly out of the box, but Goebel and his colleagues exalt them with lithe and dance-like playing - in your mind's eye, you can see their faces of concentration and confidence as they dispatch the material. I have noticed that, when I now hear other Brandenburg performances, I hear less detail and structure despite the slower tempi - it is as if they're weighed down by a giant powdered wig, and I come away unimpressed.

Bach's pieces can easily be likened to well-engineered German machines - elegantly and appropriately complicated, robust, luxurious, etc. I've owned a large, older Mercedes and had a German-born auto technician who worked on it, and he always said to "run it hard because they like it". He was right - it ran fantastically during/after a good (and downright illegal) fast road trip. Similarly, these Brandenburgs do "survive at a higher tempo" where other pieces might not. More to the point, they absolutely thrive - and as much of this has to do with Goebel's talent as with the genius of the composer. It's worth noting that Staier's work is, as usual, commanding (and, unlike many other Blandenburg offerings, you can hear it clearly due to the fine recording).
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Format: Audio CD
I don't see the need in collecting many performances of the Brandenburg Concertos, because simply put every single (authentic) recording I heard was great and the differences not that big to look at it as an (interesting) interpretation - something I do have with Bach's Mass in B or even more obvious in Mahler symphonies, there I do find the need to collect diiferent recordings/interpretations

If you see budget priced recordings by Tafel Musik (Sony Vivarte), Hugget (Virgin), Koopman (Erato), Il Giardino Armonico (Teldec) Suzuki (Bis) Pinnock (Archiv) and Parrott (Virgin) don't hesitate to buy a copy if you don't own one already...an extremely small chance you're not gonna like the performance.

Did I really hear all those recordings?
Yes, but to be honest only a few for a longer, evaluative period...so my opnion hasn't any weight at all and must not be taken that seriously.
I was only curious (maybe obsessed a while ago) why there are still new recordings made and if they added anything new to an already large library of Brandenburg Concertos and if some recordings were really that different.

There are 3 recordings that stood out of the rest for me and which I didn't mention yet:

Savall's recording (Auvidis)
Akademie fu Alte Musik Berlin (Harmonia Mundi full price and a budget release on Harmonia Mundi's "musique d'abord" which I have)
And this one, Musica Antiqua Koln with Goebel.

Savall's recording has a unique atmosphere, rather "rustic"
The Akademie fur alte Musik has a sumptious, warm timbred sound, not found in other recordings and finally my personal favorite Goebel has the fastest tempi and most tight ensemble playing.
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