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Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051
Conducted by Rinaldo Alessandrini

O-2

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos

 

Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051 [20:49, 11:10, 9:56, 14:31, 20:19, 15:12]
Cantata BWV 174, "Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte," [5:35]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050: Cadenza [1st version; 1st movement: bars 147-180] [1:44]

Rinaldo Alessandrini

Concerto Italiano

-

Naïve

Mar 2005

2-CD / TT: 99:16

Recorded at Palazzo Farnese in Rome, Italy.
Buy this album at:
2-CD: Amazon.com
Music Download: Amazon.com

B.C. and Concerto Italiano - A Review [Beginners Bach]

Sw Anandgyan wrote (October 14, 2005):
Bach: Brandenburg Concertos,
Concerto Italiano/ Alessandrini

**** (Naive, two CDs and DVD)

Andrew Clements
Friday October 14, 2005
The Guardian

If the starting point for the Brandenburg Concertos was the concerti grossi of Italian composers like Corelli and Vivaldi, the ways in which Bach elaborated and varied those models took them far from the originals. Yet hearing them played with an Italianate sense of rhythm and lyric flow by Rinaldo Alessandrini and his group suggests that those origins never disappeared entirely. The Concerto Italiano assigns one player to a part in the ripieno groupings, and with Alessandrini (who supplies the continuo and takes on the solo harpsichord part in the Fifth Concerto) setting consistently fast tempi, the effect is effervescently light and transparent. And while there are plenty of other equally first-rate versions of the Brandenburgs on period instruments around, none surely has such a baffling cover illustration as this - a stag walking up the ramp of a multi-storey car park.

John Pike wrote (October 15, 2005):
[To Sw Anadgyan] Brilliant! Can't wait to get it. Many thanks for this, Anandgyan.

 

Recent recordings

John Pike wrote (October 31, 2005):
Rinaldo Allessandrini and Concerto Italiano's new recording of the Brandenburgs is disc of the month in this month's BBC Music Magazine. A thumbs up, too, for Herreweghe's new recording of cantatas BWV 207 and BWV 214 (4/5 for performance and recording). Less good marks for Suzuki's recording of the 4 orchestral suites (3/5, I think). Current benchmark recording of the latter is Gardiner.

Paul Dirmeikis wrote (October 31, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
< Rinaldo Allessandrini and Concerto Italiano's new recording of the Brandenburgs is disc of the month in this month's BBC Music Magazine. >
After Alessandrini's extraordinary "Art of the Fugue", I was expecting very much from this new "Brandenburg concertos" recording. Maybe too much? I listened to samples on the Internet, and carefully to longer extracts in a CD shop (even a whole movement), and I haven't been "hooked" at all... Contrary to what one could have expected, it sounds very well-behaved, very linear... It seems that the Concerto Italiano in this recording became subdued, and has lost a lot of its exuberance and fruity work on the timbres and the rhythms... My favorite recordings (Hogwood/Oiseau-Lyre, and Il Giardino Armonico/Teldec) remain unchanged.

There's also a DVD of "the making of". I hope it's more interesting...

Donald Satz wrote (October 31, 2005):
[To John Pike] For what it's worth, ClassicsToday gives Suzuki's Orchestral Suites its highest rating. I haven't heard it yet.

John Pike wrote (October 31, 2005):
[To Paul Dirmeikis] Both Hogwood and Il Giardino armonico are both commended as being excellent recordings in the same review. The Concerto Italiano recording is OPPP.

 

New Brandenburgs - Alessandrini / Concerto Italiano

Drew Point wrote (November 9, 2005):
Has any one heard this new recording? It also comes with a 45-minute DVD documentary.

BBC Music Magazine has voted it "Disc of the Month" (November): http://www.bbcmusicmagazine.com/thismonthcdNew.asp

Gramophone also includes it as an "Editor's Choice" disc (November): http://www.gramophone.co.uk/edschoice.asp

Sw Anandgyan wrote (November 10, 2005):
[To Drew Point] It's quite late for me but I couldn' resist watching the DVD documentary that came with this recording.

It is a feast for the eyes and quite humbling for me since I must confess to a tremendous lack of knowledge in musicology; just as much as I can admit that a F1 racing car is a gem of engineering while absolutely clueless about mechanic and electronics, yet I felt like I could learn quite a bit while seeing them perform and listening to Rinaldo Alessandrini's presentation.

Intuitively I can vouch that it is a must.

I'd like to add that Paul ought not to worry about a lack of exhuberance, or vitality with this rendition from the Concerto Italiano.

Alas I'm no reviewer, just an appreciative neophyte.

I notice the presence of the Sinfonia from the cantata BWV 174 ...

I've yet to listen to the CDs.

The expression I want to use is; this is music to make me "cream my pants " ...

It'll be fun to compare it with the recordings I have; Leonhardt, Harnoncourt II and Müller-Brühl.

 

Brandenburg Concertos. Alessandrini, Concerto Italiano

John Pike wrote (November 22, 2005):
This arrived yesterday and I started listening to it last night.

I can strongly recommend it. Phrasing, gesturing, dynamics and overall shaping are all beautiful. Tempi are generally very brisk.

There are many very good recordings of the Brandenburgs available so what makes this one stand out? Well, for me, the answer is OPPP. This gives the recording great clarity and I heard lines that so often in the past have just been blurred out. The last movment of #4 was particulalry notable in this respect.

Drew Point wrote (November 24, 2005):
[To John Pike] Dear John and Brandenburgers (at least in spirit ;) )

I have been listening to this recording over the last week and have been enjoying it tremendously.

There is a wonderful clarity, I agree. The same is also true for me: I am noticing textures that I hadn't before.

The DVD is also a real treat. Wonderful to hear Alessandrini opine (in French, BTW) on Bach (with some interesting comments / comparisons to Vivaldi).

I had set aside the Brandenburgs for a several years (because I had heard them so many times), but Alessandrini & Co. show that these concertos are beautiful and profound -- the apotheosis of the baroque concerto (and, IMO, of all concertos).

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 24, 2005):
Drew Point wrote:
>>There is a wonderful clarity, I agree. The same is also true for me: I am noticing textures that I hadn't before.<<
My experience in hearing this recording during the past week on the radio was that parts that I had previously heard and grown to love as played by other ensembles were now being needlessly distorted so that these parts almost disappeared from the auditory landscape. For whatever is gained by Alesandrini's interpretation of these marvelous works, much is also lost when compared to other earlier recordings.

>>...these concertos are beautiful and profound -- the apotheosis of the baroque concerto (and, IMO, of all concertos).<<
I agree whole-heartedly with the last statement.

John Pike wrote:
>>Phrasing, gesturing, dynamics and overall shaping are all beautiful. Tempi are generally very brisk.<<
Words like 'gesturing' and 'generally very brisk' appear to be a politically correct terms used in HIP jargon for "exaggerated extremes with heavy emphasis upon accented and almost no sound from unaccented notes" and "extremely fast to the point of being perverse/unna." The 3rd mvt. of #3 has a very fast tempo that is anything but simply 'very brisk.'

>>OPPP....This gives the recording great clarity and I heard lines that so often in the past have just been blurred out. The last movment of #4 was particulalry notable in this respect.<<
When I heard the above-mentioned ensemble playing the last mvt. of the 4th beginning with m 95 in the solo violin part with the rapid scale passages having 16th notes, the notes went by so fast that it became an impressionistic blur.

Drew Point wrote (November 25, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Perhaps this exchange proves (one again) that beauty is in the ear of the listener [?]

I find Alessandrini's recording highly compelling. But then I was weaned on the so-called "HIP" approach. The first recording of the Brandenburgs that I listened to extensively was the Trevor Pinnock / English Concert (which still sounds fresh after 20 years).

I think one could also argue that with any "new" interpretation of a work (especially this Bachian warhorse) that something is gained AND lost. The musical vision of any ensemble -- however talented -- is necessarily limited (the DVD, BTW, makes a compelling case for Alessandrini's own vision). It is up to the listener, then, to determine if the gains outweigh the losses.

Although I greatly admire (what I hear as) the clarify of this recording, I could see how someone who prefers the Brandenburgs at slower tempi might find some aspects of this performance "blurred" or even "perverse." But surely the tempi are tame compared to the Musica Antiqua Koeln / Goebel recording!

John Pike wrote (November 25, 2005):
[To Drew Point] Like you, I have Pinnock and Goebbel and like them both very much for different reasons. I think the tempi of some of Alessandrini's movements seems not far off those of Goebbels. The last movement of #4 I have seen marked as Presto in some editions and as Allegro in others. I would be interested to hear from Thomas what the NBA gives as the marking for this movement. If Presto, there is some justification, at least, for the extremely fast tempo of Goebbels. I can agree with Thomas that some of the faster playing in HIP ensembles can result in loss of detail (somewhat counteracted in alessandrini's recording by the OPPP in my opinion), but for sheer Joie de Vivre, the Goebbels recordings are wonderful, in my view. Pinnock reaches a happy medium, faster than some of the very turgid slow playing of the older recordings on tape I have, but not as fast as Goebbels. I think Pinnock's recordings are delightful all the way round.

I play the last movement of #4 slightly slower than Pinnock's ensemble, mainly because my fingers can't get round than semiquavers as fast as Simon Standage, but it still seems suffuciently fast to me to maintain the sense of the piece.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 25, 2005):
John Pike wrote:
>>The last movement of #4 I have seen marked as Presto in some editions and as Allegro in others. I would be interested to hear from Thomas what the NBA gives as the marking for this movement. If Presto, there is some justification, at least, for the extremely fast tempo of Goebbels.<<
The NBA has it marked as 'Presto.' Johann Gottfried Walther's "Musicalisches Lexicon....," Leipzig, 1732, has a German definition of Presto which is "Geschwind" ("quickly, fast, forcefully, powerfully, with great strength, restlessly, passionately, etc. Johann Mattheson, in his "Das Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre," Hamburg, 1713, also gives 'geschwinde' for 'Presto.'

In the DWB (the Grimm brothers' version of the OED in German), there are 11 meanings for 'geschwind' of which only one is 'quickly or fast'

Quotations such as Luther's use of 'geschwind' are common: "Die zwo schriften sein scharf und geschwinde..." (The two articles/treatises are sharp and forceful...)

To be sure, in the context of music, the tempo indication is the first that comes to mind: 'Quickly,' however, is not translated by Walther as 'the quickest possible tempo' nor is 'fast' given thus: 'as fast as possible.' There is no superlative involved.!

Walther gives other Latin term/equivalents to help clarify the situation: 'paratus' = 'to be ready, in a prepared state to take action' and 'celer' = 'moving swiftly, fast, speedy, agile, quick' 'expeditus' = 'ready for action, moving easily, briskly.'

'brisk' in the OED means 'lively, sprightly, sharp and/or smart in movement.

It seems fairly clear from the above the 'Presto' did not mean to the instrumentalists in Bach's time 'as fast as you can play it.' Also, there is no indication that 'Presto' means 'to play lightly.' On the contrary, forcefulness and sharpness/incisiveness are secondary qualities which run counter to a light, skipping quality which does not do justice to an interpretation of Bach's final mvts. of numbers 3 & 4.

Neil Mason wrote (November 26, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] There is no superlative in Presto.

Neil Mason wrote (November 26, 2005):
[To John Pike & Drew Point] I agree in general with Drew's comments that it depends on what one is listening for.

John's observation that joie de vivre is a relevant criterion is spot on.

This is why I enjoy so much of the HIP recordings. Mostly whether they are HIP or not is immaterial to me, but it does seem that in applying a fresh broom to the music we have rediscovered a sense of rhythmic energy which many would describe as making the music dance.

I really enjoy interpretations of baroque music (including Bach) that bring this characteristic to the fore.

Recently I have revisited Harry Christophers' recording of the Christmas Oratorio on Brilliant Classics. Most enjoyable.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 3, 2005):
< Like you, I have Pinnock and Goebbel and like them both very much for different reasons. >
I haven't heard Alessandrini's Brandenburgs yet. But I'd find it hard to give up any of Savall, Casals (both the mid-1960s and the 1950), Guttler, Leonhardt, Pearlman, the 2nd Harnoncourt (c1981), Pickett, Goebel, or Cortot.

The old Klemperer set from c1950 is interesting too, and I'm still waiting for his stereo remake to make it to CD. Meanwhile I've made do with a couple of copies dubbed from the LPs to cassette, for the car....

 

Mid-Winter Bach for the Soul

BWV 846-893 wrote (January 17, 2007):
Have been chasing away the mid-winter doldrums with Concerto Italiano's crystalline recording of the Brandenburgs.

Surely this is the best period-instruments recording of these evergreen concertos for some time. It goes to the top of my favorite recordings.

I was watching the DVD again last night - a real treat. Alessandrini has insightful comments about Bach, and there uninterrupted "performances" of Mvmt. 1 of Conc. 4, and Mvmt. 1 of Conc. 5 (including the cadenza).

Brilliant, life-affirming stuff -- I can't recommend it highly enough.

I paste in the Gramophone review below:

6 Brandenburg Concertos,BWV1046-51.
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
Naïve New CD OP30412 (100 minutes : DDD)
2 CDs + bonus DVD

Selected Comparisons
Musica Antiqua Köln, Goebel (3/88) (ARCH) 423 116-2AH2

Reviewed: Gramophone 11/2005, Lindsay Kemp

Invigorating performances that don't need to shock to grab the attention

How do you embark on a new addition to the vast pile of Brandenburg Concerto recordings? Do you go for a radical interpretation set to make people jump, laugh or recoil in surprise? Or do you perform them more or less as other good performers have but just try to do it better? Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano have gone for the latter approach and succeeded brilliantly. There is perhaps no Baroque group around today that can do the simple and obvious things to such exciting effect. This is not to say that their Brandenburgs have no distinguishing features - just that, where they do, they spring from eminent good sense, as, for instance, in No 3 when the two central link chords come attached to a harpsichord flourish which has arisen directly from the first movement's final chord; or the abrupt ending of No 2; or any number of places where an inner part is brought out with the help of a generously drawn legato so that you arleft wondering why you never noticed it before.

Indeed, clarity of texture is one of this recording's most glorious virtues, offering a view of the contrapuntal wonders of the music that has not always been available. This is particularly striking in the potentially murky, homogeneous textures of Nos 3 and 6; but the other, more colourfully scored concertos are just as lucidly done - a triumph of the balancer's art, obviously, but surely just as much a result of clear-headed thinking on the part of the performers. Equally enlivening is a tight attention to articulative detail and tasteful ornamentation which keeps the music bouyant and forward-moving at all times.

Technically, things are not always perfect: the horn players struggle sometimes to keep up in No 1 and the solo trumpet part in No 2 is a bit harum-scarum. But the performances are so joyous and fresh that, in their straightforward but deeply musical way, they are the most invigorating newcomers to the Brandenburg fold since Musica Antiqua Köln's provocative recording of the mid-1980s. Right now I can't stop playing these discs.

Bonuses come in the form of the Sinfonia to Cantata BWV 174 (a version of the first movement of Concerto No 3 to which lusty oboes and horns have been added) and a curious `patch take' of the shorter, swirling first version of the harpsichord cadenza to No 5 (which I suppose you could edit in yourself if you happen to have the equipment). There is also a pleasingly unhyperbolic DVD of the sessions including interviews with Alessandrini.

Lindsay Kemp

 

Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051: Details
Recordings:
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Güttlerís 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

Rinaldo Alessandrini: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental & Vocal Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Rinaldo Alessandriniís Art of Fugue
Discussions of Instrumental Recordings:
Brandenburg Concertos - R. Alessandrini

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Last update: żJune 16, 2009 ż11:34:09