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Bach - A Musical Offering / The Kuijken Ensemble, Leipzig

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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$4.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Editorial Reviews

The Kuijken Ensemble performs against the backdrop of Leipzig's Altes Rathaus.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: J.S. Bach, Robert Kohnen, Barthold Kuijken
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
  • Run Time: 53 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FGGK94
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,917 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Make no mistake about my title for this review: OLD is not a pejorative. OLD is wise, knowledgeable, and reflective. As Mr. Birman points out in the previous review, Bach was 62 when he undertook this most strenuous compositional challenge. The three Kuijken Brothers -- Grimm, Greyhair, and Gnarl -- are old in years and old in their art, and this DVD reveals them as both. Their performance of the Musikalisches Opfer is fiercely intellectual and icily beautiful. Other performances will be more courtly, more emotional, more sensual in turn; I've never heard a capable performance of this work that didn't surprise me with something new.

Do not, however, choose this DVD to introduce the Musical Offering to an uninitiated listener. It's very austere, watching four old men sit formally and play without physical affect for an audience of chiefly elderly Germans in a setting without much charm or warmth. You may ask, therefore, why the DVD format is appropriate at all? That's an unanswered question in my mind. The music is what matters, and that's up to your ears. It's interesting, nonetheless, to see the earnest craftsmen at work, to behold the aura of high seriousness they shed as they play.
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The Kuijken family (the brothers Barthold on transverse flute, Sigiswald on violin and Wieland on viola da gamba) are well known musicians and ensemble directors from Belgium whose forte is Baroque and Classical era music played on authentic instruments. One of the ironies of our period instruments era is that putative authentic instruments are often modern reproductions while the much despised "modern" instruments are often one hundred year old (or more) originals. So the entire matter of authenticity is often reduced to a question of string or reed type and musical technique. Authenticity in music is truly a chimera with the matter much debated to this day. On this splendid (though abbreviated) DVD, the Brothers Kuijken are assisted by Robert Kohnen on harpsichord in a fine performance of Bach's Musical Offering BWV 1079.

Johann Sebastian had arrived in Potsdam on 7 May 1747 after a lengthy (two days and a night) and difficult journey from Leipzig. He was responding to a personal summons from Frederick the Great: the flute playing monarch anxious to hear "Old Bach" improvise upon, properly temper and break-in his large collection of organs, clavichords and harpsichords. It was a selfish Royal summons for Bach was 62, quite elderly for the time, and ill. His sight was failing and, sadly, he had only 3 years to live. But the King was the employer of Bach's famous son Carl Philipp Emanuel, chief harpsichordist in Prussia's Royal Kapelle. So that was that. Bach came as summoned. The King had Johann Sebastian come to the palace as soon as he arrived, still in his traveling clothes. Patience was not a kingly virtue in Prussia in 1747. When Bach arrived he was presented with a fiendishly difficult "Royal theme" and asked to improvise upon it. Bach effortlessly produced a three-part fugue.
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I enjoy Bach and this video was no exception. The music is beautiful! What I didn't appreciate is some of the performers expressionless faces as they played.
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