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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1 - 6

4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 8, 1999
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  • Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1 - 6
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  • Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

BACH:BRANDENBURG CTOS 01-06

Amazon.com

The Brandenburg Concertos seem to be Bach's most popular works by far, and there are so many recordings of them out there--on period instruments and "modern," and at all price ranges. Of course, it's hard to pick out one or even two to call the "best"--but this reissue of a 1989 recording by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment has a good claim for the title of "Best Buy Brandenburgs." These performances don't have the splashy extroversion of Il Giardino Armonico or the caffeine-pumped, high-velocity thrill of Musica Antiqua Köln, but they're not overly reserved or dull, as some English ensembles are accused of being. The OAE's instrumental playing is very skillful indeed, with particularly nice work from the horns in the third movement of the First Concerto, and from trumpeter Mark Bennett in the Second; and the tempos are moderately quick (which means that they would have been considered rather fast before 1980 or so), but without being breathless. The slow movements sing sweetly--the viola playing of Monica Huggett and Pavlo Besnosiuk in the slow movement of the Sixth Concerto is especially lovely--and the quick outer movements have an infectiously bouncy pulse. If money is no object, you might want to consider Il Giardino Armonico or the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, but these here are surely the best Brandenburgs available at such a low price. --Matthew Westphal
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Product Details

  • Performer: Paul Goodwin, Catherine Mackintosh, Rachel Beckett, Mark Bennett, Monica Huggett, et al.
  • Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Audio CD (June 8, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Erato Disques
  • ASIN: B00000J2PP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,968 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It is on a very rare occasion that recording artists as well as recording engineers come together, as if by fate, to make an illustrious recording as done here. I believe that has happened with this recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concerti. The musicians play with much vigor, excitement, and virtuosity throughout. They rely upon the use of period instruments that definetely, to my ears, sound much more fitting to this music than the modern instruments used today. The recording engineers are every bit as talented as as the musicians in their own regard. All the musicians are recorded with plenty of breathing room allowing them space to blend well whereas 99% of recordings today are so closely miked it's as if the instrument is in your face. I'd have to say that of my entire music collection this budget priced cd is now my audiophile reference disc(s). I've listened to snippets of various recordings of this work at prices in the $30 range and have not been impressed by the music making and sound quality as I am here. This is a must have recording of these Concerti.
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Format: Audio CD
I own quite a few recordings of the Branderburg concertos (Suzuki, Saval, Boston Baroque...) this one is one of the best.

There is an evident feel of musical joy coming out of this recording. I can't find other ways to describe it.

The musicians are enthusiastic about the work they are playing, restrained most of the time but when it is called for they give their best.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
Amazon lists numerous recordings of Bach's complete Brandenburg Concertos, but this particular CD can lay a strong claim to being one of the best. It offers a faithful, superbly played and authentically Baroque reading of these evergreen works.

The six concertos that make up the Brandenburgs are very varied - they may not even have been conceived as a set - so it's refreshing to see that no artificial attempt at uniformity is made: the mantle of 'musical director' is shared between three highly accomplished violinists - Monica Huggett, Catherine Mackintosh and Elizabeth Wallfisch.

Technically, concertos four and five offer the greatest challenge. I remember reading somewhere that Bach may never have had the chance to hear such demanding works actually played during his lifetime. A sobering thought. The pieces are played here with verve and precision by Huggett and Malcolm Proud, on violin and harpsichord respectively. The harpsichord solo in the opening Allegro of the fifth concerto is a spellbinding passage which gets increasingly frenetic (almost manic) and prefigures Classical/Romantic cadenzas and much else. Proud is always controlled and introduces subtle variations of tempo and dynamic to avoid sounding prosaic.

Artistically, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment brings a creative engagement to the works without ever putting themselves before JSB. I particularly liked the horns' cross rhythms throwing confusion and an air of modernity into the mix in the first concerto. (Recently, I heard this effect again on radio - by Europa Galante, if memory serves.) The small scale of the ensemble, meanwhile, creates a sound that is transparent and lucid, nowhere more so than in the second concerto, where Mark Bennett's trumpet is crisp and clear.
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Format: Audio CD
Watch out for a manufacturing error with this 2CD set. I found that the exact same music (Concertos 4-6) was recorded on each CD in the set (they are labelled CD1 and CD2 but both contain the music for CD2). I returned it, obtained a replacement, and the replacement has the exact same problem, so it is not an isolated event. I believe these performances would be excellent if I could only get to hear them all.
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Format: Audio CD
What a bargain -- period-performance-style Brandenburgs in excellent 1988 digital sound for under $10.00! And with the great Monica Huggett to boot. I've had this recording for some time, and I took it from my shelves to compare it to the almost contemporary (1986) I Musici account on Philips, which adheres to an older style, with heavier, less dance-like rhythms, more modern instruments, and a more integrated sound. I Musici have been in the business since c. 1950, they play beautifully, and they see no need, obviously, to become a different kind of group. Their account is very attractive, and the sound is stellar. But here, the whole thing dances, the instruments are less smooth in sound, so that you actually believe that there is friction on strings of the violins, for example. The strands of music are a bit more distinct, so that you can hear more clearly what Bach is weaving together -- and yet there's no sense of imperfect ensemble. I'm glad to have both this and the I Musici account in my collection, for what that says about performance history in my lifetime, but also (and mainly) because both are beautifully done in their respective ways.
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Format: Audio CD
This is an excellent version of the Brandenbergs. The tempos are good and the instruments are all clearly heard. I noticed that some sort of production problem led to some poor reviews with the 2 CDs having the same music for some people. I did NOT have that problem and think this set can be highly recommended.
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