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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos

4.1 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 21, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Christopher Hogwood's jaunty accounts with the Academy of Ancient Music, from 1984, are characterful though less than impressively recorded. The personnel are outstanding (showing the strength of the London scene even then), with the only drawback being the weak solo trumpet of Friedemann Immer in Concerto No. 2. --Ted Libbey
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Product Details

  • Performer: Christophe Rousset, Monica Huggett, Catherine Mackintosh, Christopher Hirons, Stephen Hammer
  • Orchestra: The Academy of Ancient Music
  • Conductor: Christopher Hogwood
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (October 21, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: L'Oiseau - Lyre
  • ASIN: B0000042HK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,675 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I have to object, and offer a second opinion of the performance of the 2nd concerto.
(...) [A] reviewer points to Friedmann Immer's "weak" performance of the trumpet part to the 2nd as the only major flaw in execution on this set. Don't listen to him. I'm familiar with over a dozen recordings of the 2nd Brandenburg, and Friedmann Immer's delivery of the solo trumpet part here is a revelation, head and shoulders above any other I've heard.
It's true that Immer plays with a soft, delicate tone. At no point is he any louder than the Baroque flute player, in fact. But that is not because his performance is "weak." That's what a Baroque trumpet sounds - and sounded - like; it's what Bach had in mind. This is not a Trumpet Concerto, it's a concerto for a group of four soloists. Very few trumpeters realize this in their performances of the piece, and of those who do acheive the right balance with the other soloists, Immer's reading stands apart. His lip trills are immaculte, his intonation impeccable, and he soars through the highest passages - including a series of arpeggios up to g''', a damnably difficult range to play tastefully on the trumpet - gracefully, if you can believe it.
But this set with confidence: all of the works here receive elegant, polished performances. And look forward especially to the 2nd, which receives the most thoughtful, refined reading I know of.
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By A Customer on February 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is the Holy Grail of Brandenburgs recordings. The performances and the recording quality are inspired and unsurpassed.
But be warned: Hogwood has recorded the "original version" of the set. The third movement of #1 is omitted; the fourth movement thus becomes the third movement and is itself abridged. Likewise, the pyrotechnic, crowd-goes-wild harpsichord solo in the first movement of #5 appears here abbreviated and tamed.
I can't for the life of me understand why Hogwood released versions of these pieces that are really of interest only to musicologists. However, these discs are so well done that I suggest buying this set anyway, and supplementing it with another recording of #1-#3-#5 (Trevor Pinnock's fine version, for example) which contains the rest of the riches.
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By A Customer on January 23, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I am not so well versed in the nuances of classical repertoires as most who post here, but I am a casual fan of Bach's Brandenburg and Violin Concertos, in particular.
I had listed to various interpretations over the years and whereas I can most always pick out these concertos when heard over the radio, Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music were the first specific performances I could recognize by ear, years after I had last heard them. It was then that I realized that these particular recordings had left an indelible and uniquely human imprint on my consciousness.
These may not be judged the "best" interpretations ever put to disc by "connoisseurs", but I find they are the standard by which I will always judge the rest. I highly recommend them.
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Format: Audio CD
It was with pleasure that I noted that the Hogwood versions of the Brandenburg's are still available. It is easy to forget that these were a strike out onto the holy ground of original instruments and scoring and were somewhat revolutionary at their recording.
Bach selected work originally done for Prince Leopold's orchestra at Cothen and revised these six concerti to suit the Margrave's limited resources at Brandenburg. Because Bach's objectives were often to achieve textural as well as thematic variations, several of the concerti exist in multiple revisions. All of this makes the conductor's choices difficult if scholarship is important. Hogwood has made sensible rather than radical decisions, and we are very likely enjoying the music as the Margrave did originally.
The performances are intense. Tempos are a bit faster than traditional tempo's of the time and the musicianship is right on for the most part. We often forget that original instruments where a bit more difficult to steer than their modern heirs. Horns had some odd notes in their range, and oboes were often used in trumpetlike passages. The orchestra and soloists do an excellent job of managing these difficulties.
Sound is dry, but complex. Original instruments provide resonant sonorities that can be delightful, but are rarely earthmoving. The inner movement of the parts is quite audible which makes these versions especially interesting. The recording itself is typical of the early 1980's, which means that it could be a bit better. Sonics are clear, but I wish that there was a bit more directionality and spatial sense.
The price makes this one of the best Brandenburg buys available. An excellent purchase for the student.
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Format: Audio CD
I have owned this set of the 6 Brandenburg Concerti for over 20 years (the 1985 recordings). It might be easy to criticize Christopher Hogwood for "his interpretation," but he is giving us the original version of these immensely popular pieces. I am not a trained musician, but I know what I like to hear, and I really love hearing these pieces performed.

This set was among the first of my classical CD collection; it's actually #3 in my own catalog. Even if you have another set of these concerti, replace them with this set. (break one and ask for an early birthday present). The authenticity of the playing and hearing Mr. Hogwood on the harpsichord makes this a truly memorable listening experience.

Stuart Gustafson, author
[...]
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