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Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051
General Discussions - Part 3 (2006-)

Continue from Part 2

Brandenberg videos

Richard Burdick wrote (September 14, 2006):
The yahoo Natural horn group has been discussing two online vidoes of brandenberg one.I thought this group might be interested too.

Link 1)
http://helix-1.sri.ch/ramgen/tsi/vod_2006/coro/05.2339_concertiBrandeburghesi_concertoN1_lw.rm

Line 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpf38dQpMzk&mode=related&search=

My post to them:
Since I am working on understanding to baroque horn right now, I find these very interesting.

Just the night before these were posted on this group, I listened to the CD of Brandenberg 1 & 2 with the Netherlands Bach Collegium, #2 sound like a horn, which is great!. The sound is bright which seems right to me, but I can hear even in the trill the use of ventle holes. I just can't stand it.

On the videos, both groups are really playing with the hand in the bell. I see the Italian group is videoed with the first horn playing sans hand, but the video doesn't line up with the sound & I hear at one point a stopped high A while his hand is out.

I am really coming to the conclusion that the horn was held up, like the Italian group and the hand wasn't in the bell. If it were needed, the hand would be put in just for the note, but it shouldn't be needed for F, F# or high A, so there would be no hand work in this piece of music.

BTW I am in the market for a baroque horn if anyone has one for sale.

 

The Academy and the Brandenburgs

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 15, 2007):
Santu de Silva wrote:
< (Now that most of use are past the phase where we felt obliged to criticize the Academy mercilessly for not using all authentic instruments, and other vices, it might be appropriate to retrospectively look at their place in the history of music recording. I have a huge number of recordings by them, most of them very satisfying, and beautifully executed.) >
Please remind me: Wasn't it the Academy and Marriner who presented a box (LPs) of what they claimed represented the first version of the Brandenburgs? I owned the box in my previous life as an LP collector. Alas or not, e-lists to discuss such matters didn't exist at that time.

Santu de Silva wrote (April 15, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Yes, that was they. I believe the reconstruction was a collaboration between Christopher Hogwood and Thurston Dart, the harpsichordist.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (April 15, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Speaking of the Academy of St Martin and vinyl records, I'd like to point the list to a wonderful post on Louis Dyer: founder of Editions L'Oisaeau-Lyre.
http://theovergrownpath.blogspot.com/2007/04/does-anyone-still-care-about-major.html

Mrs. Dyer was responsible for comissioning musicologists to perpare performing editions of French baroque composers such as Rameau, Lully, etc). Remember too, this was done prior to the big revival of Baroque music in the 1950s. But particularily quaint was this story:

"Louise Dyer had immense flair and style, but she was also a hard task-master. The first ever record made by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields was recorded for L'Oiseau -Lyre in the Conway Hall in London in 1961. No royalties were paid, fees were low and session time was limited. For 'A Recital by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields' the players each received 5 ($9) from Mrs Dyer in used banknotes notes from her handbag. The 40 minute programme of rarely heard works by Corelli, Torelli, Locatelli, Albicastro and Handel was recorded in just two three hour sessions, and the performing editions of the Albicastro and Handel works were prepared by the session's producer, Jimmy Burnett."

BTW: One of my favorite recordings of the Brandenburgs is the one by Karl Ristenpart and the Chamber Orchestra of the Saare--which I believe was one of the first to have those horns blaring out in the foreground. This recording was on Club du Disque Francais in Europe and on Nonesuch Records here in the United States.
Have a great Sunday!

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 22, 2007):
[To Santu de Silva] Thank you, Santu. In the meantime I found a very inadequate listing of my erstwhile LP collection up to 1991 in which indeed this set is listed on Philips LPs with a note about Thurston Dart's part in this reconstruction. I have no note about Hogwood but, as stated, these are scribblings and not profound annotations. Are these reconstructions considered today to have any validity?

Santu de Silva wrote (April 22, 2007):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I'm the wrong person to ask; the facts are evidently as they stated, and the conjectures are just conjectures. They did certainly endorse the view that the earlier version had to be 'better'.

For a while, people ran away with this principle I suspect simply because it have them a platform for presenting versions of works that were not yet recorded, thus giving them lots of interesting projects (that might have provided academic credentials to some of them).

Some of these postulated earlier versions have been simply gorgeous, e.g. 1060. Others, such as their reconstructed Brandenburg V, I can take or leave alone.

I know for a fact that Hogwood was responsible for the Argo reconstruction of 1064; I could be mistaken about the Academy Brandenburg set.

 

Bach Brandenburg Performance...

Pundcam wrote (February 17, 2009):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCXVCpcopa8

Bach Brandenburg performance...
For those who are interested, enjoy...

 

Monthly Discussion June 2009: Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 16, 2009):
Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote:
< I see that we have nobody to lead us in the monthly discussion. June was set aside for the Brandenburg Concertos. I suppose these are so familiar to people and popular that no one has much to say. Okay, BUT July has been set aside for the organ Preludes and Fugues. I Really, Really hope that one of the organists on the list will lead us here. I do not feel qualified to take this on. I am taking organ lessons. I would love to hear what more seasoned organists have to say about these. >
The Brandenburg Concertos are not only one of the popular works in the Bach canon (if not the most popular), but also in the oeuvre of classical music literature.

Therefore, it seems somewhat peculiar that the discussion of this group of works, scheduled for June 2009, has not yet started.

In order to encourage the discussion, I have decided to dedicate the last few days to build a page for these works and to compile all the past discussions stored in my archives.

A usual, the main page of the Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051 includes basic data, links to recording reviews and discussions and links to other sites.
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV1046-1051.htm

Please do not ask me about comprehensive discography. This enormous project would have to wait since I am still busy with other projects of higher priority.

The main page of the Brandenburg Concertos leads to enough material to feed the discussion.
Let the discussion begin!

Ed Jeter wrote (June 16, 2009):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thanks Aryeh, your comprehensive and hard work is always appreciated.

I have just listened to the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields - Neville Marriner recording by Phillips. I was particulary interested in hearing Concerto V BWV 1050 with H.Szeryng and JP.Rampal playing violin and flute respectively off of George Malcolm's harpsichord. The credenza in this piece is supposed to highlight a virtuoso cembalistin.

My feelis that Malcolm failed to seize the opportunity presented and gave it away to Rampal's flute instead. Whether this was due to Malcolm's resisting his destiny, of Marriner's tepid direction, or of a unfortunate mix in the sound studio I could not say. At any rate can anyone recommend another of the recordings of Brand V?

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 16, 2009):
[To Ed Jeter] George Malcolm's better recording of it was with Klemperer. I think the only currently available CD issue of it is from Japan; my copy is the LP set.

Many other favorites too, of course.....

James Atkins Pritchard wrote (June 17, 2009):
[To Ed Jeter] Many people will not agree, but I think the Britten recording (with Sir Philip Ledger as the harpsichordist) is very fine. And if you don't mind the piano in these works you might want to check out the Casals, with Rudolf Serkin. Or this:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyh1o0Gfy6Y
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljojjoBGLYw&feature=related
www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIl8u8Xpu7o&feature=related

I love Gould's cadenza.

But many will think I'm living in the dark ages...

Uri Golomb wrote (June 17, 2009):
My favorite recording of the Brandenburg 5th on the piano is by Alfred Cortot - I particularly like his highly original and persuasive shaping of the cadenza.

As for the full set of the six Brandenburgs: I suppose my personal favourite remains Harnoncourt's second (1980s) recording - but it's not exactly a safe recommendation; I suspect many listeners will find it mannered. Among more recent versions, I particularly enjoyed Alessandrini and Pinnock (his second recording); I notice that when I reviewed the Pinnock, I noted - among other things - that it contains "one the best-balanced Fifth Brandenburg on record - the harpsichord is clearly present throughout without resorting to artificial-sounding spotlighting". There is also a very enjoyable DVD version with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.

Ed Jeter wrote (June 17, 2009):
[To James Atkins Pritchard] Thanks for the leads to Philip Ledger, Rudy Serkin, and Gould. As a keen amateur pianist I am very familiar with the styles of Serkin and Gould and know that neither of them was ever hesitate about grabbing the moment when it was presented. Serkin in fact, in his LVB Apassionata for only one example, sometimes seems to play more to impress than to please. I am not necessarily a purist about keeping everything HIP but I still think I would prefer the harpsichord on this (Brandenburg V for anyone just tuning in) and look forward to the Ledger performance.

Ed Jeter wrote (June 17, 2009):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad, Thanks for that. I liked the point you made.

"Same cembalistin, different conductor, Big Difference."

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 17, 2009):
Ed Jeter wrote:
< Thanks for the leads to Philip Ledger, Rudy Serkin, and Gould. As a keen amateur pianist I am very familiar with the styles of Serkin and Gould and know that neither of them was ever hesitate about grabbing the moment when it was presented. Serkin in fact, in his LVB Apassionata for only one example, sometimes seems to play more to impress than to please. I am not necessarily a purist about keeping everything HIP but I still think I would prefer the harpsichord on this (Brandenburg V for anyone just tuning in) and look forward to the Ledger performance. >
Rudolf Serkin's interpretation of Brandenburg 5 (with Casals/Marlboro) is the opposite of "grabbing the moment" -- it's straightforward, to a fault. I've heard at least 40 recordings, and can't think of one that is stricter in tempo during the cadenza than Serkin's. He just keeps going from the preceding part, and I gradually realize, Hey, the orchestra isn't playing anymore.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 20, 2009):
Ed jeter wrote:
< My feeling is that Malcolm failed to seize the opportunity presented and gave it away to Rampal's flute instead. Whether this was due to Malcolm's resisting his destiny, of Marriner's tepid direction, or of a unfortunate mix in the sound studio I could not say. At any rate can anyone recommend another of the recordings of Brand V? >
A few quick thoughts, before they escape (fugitive?)

(1) I find the same lack of balance (lost harps.) in the Clark/Consort of London set with the Bach Edition on brilliant classics. I would suggest that the fault is in the engineering in both cases, as Ed J. gave me the opportunity to ponder. Why blame the musicians when there is a technician handy.

(2) Uri recommended the Harnoncourt (second, 1980s) edition. That sent me scrambling to the LP stacks (and piles) for my Harnoncourt edition, my Brandenburg listening standard (acquired second-hand [pre-owned?] within the last fifteen years). No date on the packaging or discs, as best I can discern. By now, I am already wandering if I should have wondered down this particular path. Too late to turn back.

(3) Brandenburg 5 sounds as I expect: nicely balanced harpsichord, brisk tempos with clear articulation. A few nostalgic LP pops. But is this Harnoncourt 1 or 2?

(4) There is no reliable info from the amazon.com listings of CD reissues (one from 1993, one from 1994), as to the source material.

(5) In desperation, I revert to BCW, to the discography which does not yet exist, per Aryeh. Perhaps not, but the bits already there are better than anything else around. Recording dates for both Harnoncourt issues. From another clue, I am confident that my LPs are the second issue. It wll be fun fleshing out these details in the future.

(6) The harpsichord balance is superb on my Harnoncourt LPs, in No. 5, whether the 1964 or 1983 (+/-) originals.

(7) For another original instrument performance, with superb keyboard balance and expression in No. 5, try the Boston [MA, USA] Baroque issue on TelArc, from 1993, continuously in print ever since. That might tell you something. Some of the players, I call friends. I have no idea what they call me. That might tell you something else.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 20, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (1) I find the same lack of balance (lost harps.) in the Clark/Consort of London set with the Bach Edition on brilliant classics. >
The newer version of that Brilliant Classics box (the 155-disc set) has a pretty good set of Brandenburgs: Belder's from 2006.

Harry W. Crosby wrote (June 21, 2009):
Someone recently expressed his admiration for the new Richard Egarr conducted Brandenburgs. However, when I compared that with the recent Pinnock/European Brandenburg Ensemble version, I found that, overall, I clearly preferred the latter, my kind of small group, incisive, fluent (to my ear) and memorable performance.

And the Pinnock et al recording, despite being plain CD while the Egarr is SACD, sounds to me more open and balanced, every instrument heard. Meanwhile, a local friend said that he prefers an older Pinnock recording to this. He brought it over and we listened and he maintained his stand, which led me, amazed, to tell him we occupy different planets on this one.

Aryeh Oron wrote (June 21, 2009):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< George Malcolm's better recording of it was with Klemperer. I think the only currently available CD issue of it is from J; my copy is the LP set. >
Bradley Lehman's reviews of Klemperer's 1946 & 1960 recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos can be read at: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVD/BWV1046-1051-Klemperer.htm

George Malcolm recorded the 5th Brandenburg Concerto BWV 1050 at least 7 times, under the following conductors:
Yehudi Menuhin (July 1959)
Hermann Scherchen (March 1960)
Otto Klemperer (October 1960)
Neville Marriner (February 1971)
George Malcolm (May 1977)
Neville Marriner (May 1980)
Neville Marriner (November 1985)
See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/NVP/Malcolm.htm

Of the above, I have the first two and during the last couple of days I have been listening to them.

The sound of Malcolm in both recordings is "larger than life". I mean that the sound of the harpsichord is big and strong. Definitely not the kind of delicate instrument with multiple sonorities our ears have been accustomed
to in recent decades. I guess that Malcolm used this instrument in order to be heard in large concert halls.

What is more important is the playing. I find Malcolm imaginative, exiting, full of zest, not the kind of player described by Brad in his review of the recording with Klemperer. I guess this is a result of the extra freedom given to him by Menuhin and Scherchen, both among my favourites conductors of Bach's orchestral works (Scherchen also of cantatas & other vocal works). The Menuhin's rendition has more balance between the groups of soloists and extra freshness. In this term he sounds more "modern".

Russ Sackowitz wrote (June 21, 2009):
[To Aryeh Oron] Yehudi Menuhin and George Malcolm's recording of the 5th Brandenburg with the Bath festival Orchestra (plus the other 5 and a few violin concertos) is available in an EMI (Gemini) digitally re-mastered recording for $11.98 on Amazon. It is also available as a download for $9.49. You can use the following search term - Bach: Brandenburg & Violin Concertos.

 

Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051: Details
Recordings:
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Güttlers Brandenburgs | Review: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1, 2 & 5 - conducted by Karl Richter | Review of Brandenburg Concertos by Tafelmusik
General Discussions:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Discussions of Individual Recordings:
Brandenburg Concertos - R. Alessandrini | Brandenburg Concertos - R. Egarr | Brandenburg Concertos - N. Harnoncourt | Brandenburg Concertos - O. Klemperer

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Last update: June 21, 2009 20:23:49