Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr – Bach: Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051 (2009) DSF DSD64

Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr – Bach: Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046-1051 (2009)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz  | Time – 01:36:19 minutes | 3,8 GB | Genre: Classical
Source: ISO SACD | © harmonia mundi | Booklet, Front Cover

Long neglected on a library shelf in Brandenburg Castle, these six ‘Concertos for several instruments’ have since become some of the best-known works in the classical repertoire for their musical inventiveness and their games of mathematical symmetry. Richard Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music have endeavoured to return to the original ‘chamber’ conception of the works, with one player per part.

There’s no shortage of mainstream orchestral versions of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, but period ensembles usually play them as works for chamber orchestra, with their string sections pared down. In Richard Egarr’s historically informed performances with the Academy of Ancient Music, the strings are limited to single instruments per part, much as Bach likely expected and probably got, if these concertos were actually played in his day. Listeners accustomed to big-sounding performances with the lush strings of large-scale modern orchestras may cringe when hearing the extremely lean textures in these 2008 recordings, but authentic interpretations really do demand reduced forces, and most of the time there is no problem if the conductor finds the right balance. However, the scanty strings heard here are often drowned out by the robust woodwinds and brass instruments in the Brandenburg Concertos No. 1 and No. 2, and even the fully realized continuo part of harpsichord and cello is audibly thicker than the wiry tone produced by the solo strings. Beyond this, shrinking the ensemble to a skeleton crew seems to subvert the basic idea of the concerto grosso — of which the Brandenburgs are important examples — which pits the concertino (a small group of soloists) against the ripieno (the full ensemble); this becomes a moot point where there is minimal difference between the groups. In terms of sound, the performances have a nice luster, thanks to expert playing on authentic instruments and responsive acoustics, and the winds are exceptionally clear and vibrant. But because the strings have been thinned so drastically, these Brandenburgs will likely be of interest only to Egarr’s and the Academy’s devoted fans. –AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046
1 | I. [Allegro] 4’11
2 | II. Adagio 3’10
3 | III. Allegro 4’30
4 | IV. Menuet – Trio – Menuet – Poloinesse – Menuet – Trio – Menuet 9’48
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047
5 | I. [Allegro] 5’12
6 | II. Andante 3’21
7 | III. Allegro assai 2’42
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
8 | I. [Allegro] – Adagio 5’56
9 | II. Allegro 5’05
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049
10 | I. Allegro 7’08
11 | II. Andante 3’23
12 | III. Presto 4’12
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050
13 | I. Allegro 10’37
14 | II. Affetuoso 5’29
15 | III. Allegro 5’09
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051
16 | I. [Allegro] 5’40
17 | II. Adagio ma non tanto 4’49
18 | III. Allegro 5’38

Academy of Ancient Music
Richard Egarr, harpsichord & direction

Recorded: May 2008 at St. Jude’s-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden, London. Recorded, edited & mastered in DSD


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