Unlike Karl Richter's recent DGG DVD Brandenburg Concertos, which are a hybrid mixture of old and new, these Brandenburgs are the latest generation period-style performances. They were filmed at the Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Cothen, 23-26 March 2000. Bach served as Music Director (Kapellmeister) at the court of the Prince of Anhalt-Cothen from 1717-1723. He wrote the Brandenburgs between 1717-1721: dedicating them to the Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg. They were probably performed in this very Hall of Mirrors, giving this DVD a nice touch of historical continuity. The Palace is beautiful, the sound reverberant and well-focussed. This was an inspired choice for filming these concertos. No matter how often I listen to the Brandenburgs, there is always some new discovery to be made, some fresh insight into Bach's genius to be gained.
These are superb performances: fresh and fleet, filled with poetry yet hard-edged and crystalline in their purity of sound. The...
These recordings of the Brandenburg concertos are simply superb. This is a recording of the Freiburger Barockorchester playing original instruments in the Spiegelsaal of the Palace of Cothen, a place where Johann Sebastian Bach likely arranged the performance of these same pieces while he was living there (1717-1723). Bach went to Cothen from Weimar. Prince Leopold, head of the principality of Anhalt-Cothen, had arranged to have his mother, Princess Gisela Agnes (He was still underage!), obtain the services of eight virtuoso musicians from the Prussian court orchestra when it was disbanded by Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia. Bach inherited a virtuoso group of 16 players. In this recording of the first Brandenburg concerto, there are 18 performers. The sound is probably close to what Bach heard when he conducted his orchestra. Yes, this is likely where they were performed after Bach had composed them.
Cothen appears in this DVD as a beautiful place. It was clearly a...
Euroarts scores more high marks with this release of youthfully joyful performances of Bach's six evergreen concertos for the Margrave of Brandenburg played by the young virtuosos of the Freiburger Barockorchester. The verve and panache of this ensemble remind us that these pieces are intended to entertain as well as to uplift, and the obvious camaraderie and delight of the musicians is a reminder that this music was written to be played by friends who love to play together. The fact that this is all great music of the highest order reminds us that Bach was a consummate professional who loved to make music in a friendly environment and that he just happened to be one of the greatest composers. The Freiburgers clearly know all this, and they present performances which can stand with the best currently available on CD and DVD, such as those of Pinnock on DG. Their playing is light and rhythmically incisive as well as warm and touching. The art of period instruments has entered a level...
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