Brandenburgische Konzerte 1-6 Doppel-CD
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TEL 450998442; TELEFUNKEN - GERMANIA; Classica Orchestrale
Il Giardino Armonico ist eine Gruppe fähiger junger Italiener mit historischen Originalinstrumenten, die auf Barockmusik spezialisiert sind. Sie verleihen den Brandenburgischen Konzerten einen leichten, luftigen Touch, mit intensiv empfundenen langsamen Sätzen, schwungvollen Allegros und glühenden Prestos. Im Gegensatz zu einigen ihrer Art spielen sie mit Vitalität, ohne in interpretative Extreme zu verfallen; das Finale von Nr. 3, zum Beispiel, wird in einer rasenden Geschwindigkeit gespielt, fühlt sich jedoch nie zu schnell für die Musik an. Die Solos sind erstklassig ausgearbeitet, mit funkelnden Violin- und Holzbläserparts sowie charmant blökenden historischen Hörnern bei Nr. 1. Die Produktion ist ein großer Pluspunkt und hilft sehr dabei, diesen Vortrag der ewigen Klassiker zu einem der besten seiner Art zu machen. --Dan Davis
Dazu kommen die obertonreichen, klangschönen historischen Instrumente, die die Bewegung eines Themas durch die Register und Lautstärken mit wechselnden Klangfarben unterstützen. Besonders die satte Klarheit und Gleichberechtigung der tiefen Streichinstrumente und des Continuo fasziniert mich. Gepaart mit sauberer Aufnahmequalität, weckt diese Einspielung ein Maß an Aufmerksamkeit, wie ich das bei einer Komposition, die ich schon lange zu kennen glaubte, kaum für möglich hielt. Vielen Dank für diese Freude!
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With that in mind, I've heard a ton of recordings of the Brandenburgs. And I'm just as tired of the anemic sound and too-fast tempi of ensembles like Hogwood's as I am of the too slow, syrupy interpretations of Fürtwangler and Karajan. This recording by Il Giardino Armonico is the only recording I've heard that manages to make these works really speak.
Antonini bridges the gap between rich lyricism and crisp articulation better than anyone I can think of who performs this repertoire. Brandenburg #4 is my favorite, and the five-voice fugue in the last movement is the standard by which I judge all the best interpretations of this work. Antonini does the most remarkable things with this piece. The subject is rendered by each voice in the most song-like, tuneful, vocal manner. Instead of thumpy, fast, dry (for most period recordings) or wobbly, incoherent, unintelligible (for most modern instrument recordings), here is great legato playing without any loss of crispness or transparency of texture. Where the subject jumps a fifth, he connects the lines where most conductors demand extreme separation, and then creates the most astonishing, perfectly shaped messe di voce you can imagine. That said, all the entrances of the fugue subject are completely distinguishable, and no entrance has the same quality as any other. All the instruments are allowed to express their unique colors and textures, and Bach surely understood how important this was when he orchestrated the work. Furthermore, all of the silences in the work are sharply drawn by the ensemble and as dramatic as you might hear in any Beethoven symphony. I could hardly believe what I was hearing, and I was enormously grateful that, finally, someone got it right.
The other great measure of a high-quality period recording of this work is the natural horn playing on the Brandenburg #2. While it's a hair rough and decidedly masculine (not necessarily a bad thing), it's extremely powerful and expressive, and the player (Gabriele Cassone) understands how to make his instrument speak and dazzle, rather than just hammering out a technically perfect performance, which is all that most natural horn players can hope for.
It's rare that I don't have a complaint about a recording, but this is that exception. I recommend this piece heartily and unqualifiedly.
I must credit Maestro Antonini with breathing life into this performance. The musicianship is fabulous, and the overall sound is truly wonderful.
Amazon's service is unbeatable. During the Christmas rush, the CDs arrived a day earlier than promised. Many thanks to all from A Delighted Listener!
Teldec's marketing of this music has nothing to do with the musicians, the performance, or the composer. If you've ever spent an afternoon in a meeting with marketing "people" you'd know that their contact with anything we would know of as "reality" is tenuous. Current hot imbecilic maxims are about selling sizzles and not steaks, or boxes and not what's inside the boxes. Corporations actually think it's a good idea these days to hire marketing people who aren't fans of the product as it interferes with their spinning, lying, and duplicities, even if they aren't needed. Marketing people should all be carefully placed in a big sizzling box and the lid should be nailed shut.
The silly reputation of this particular group of performers is not the issue here, especially if we're worrying about whether this is going to be "rock and roll" Bach or not. Refer to the previous paragraph and welcome to the Brave New World.
This is a period instrument recording, meaning I, at least, expected blatting horns and fast speeds. Sometimes with recordings like this I expect speeds that many would deem psychotic. I once read that conductors in the early 1800s played like they were at a race track. No less a light than Felix Mendelssohn was mentioned as being a speed freak--the same Mendlessohn who was no taker of risks and thought his good friend Berlioz was a nut case. I assume this happened because there may have been something traditional about it. Classical music slowed down when its audience stopped being younger passionate artists and intellectuals and started being blue-haired ladies living in Philadelphia, middle-aged white guys, and modern Cherubinis. Big Band music used to be played at crazy speeds until it became nursing home music. Henry Rollins stopped shouting and now sounds like he's running for selectman. Slower speeds usually indicate the audience wants to be lulled to sleep and not energized.
The harpsichord sounds metallic because harpsichords often sound metallic. That's why Mr. Piano invented the piano some years later on and why Chopin did not write etudes for harpsichord.
If I've owned only four or five different recordings of a major work I don't tend to get all hot and heavy pro or con on a newer version. Reason? Well, zowie wowie, exposure to that few recordings hardly qualifies me as an expert. I'd feel like a fool pronouncing, say, Kleiber the Younger's Beethoven Fifth the all-time best or worst recording of that symphony based on that kind of meager sampling. Plus, in a crowded field there really is no best, just a clump of standouts near the top of the list.
All this said, let's actually look at this recording for real. First, sonically, it's a marvel. Beautifully engineered with stupendous presence. Second, these kids--punk rockers, rappers, Scientologists, or whatever the marketing jerks portray them as--clearly know how to play their instruments with style, accuracy, and panache. Third, the conductor knows how to make Baroque music breath and wiggle and surge and flow without making it sound like Klemperer and his big-arsed orchestra back in the 1960s (a recording I dearly love). On the other hand this interpretation thoroughly lacks the sewing machine quality that was a deep problem with many period instrument performances, coincidentally during the reign of Philip Glass and Steve Reich.
This recording struck me immediately as a well-reasoned and balanced performance--hardly academically correct (AC not PC), barely delightfully psycho like Goebel's on DGG, and not exactly likeably parlor and wine-and-cheese party safe like older versions by Marriner. I'd call this a vibrant and accomplished set of Brandenburgs perfect for those that want a modern period instrument recording, that are not interested in musico-political cat fights, and that are above needing the juvenile imprimaturs of "all-time greatest" or "best Brandenburg concertos ever!!!"
I'm giving this five stars because I like it a lot, it'll probably be my most frequently played one for a while (of the 756 recordings of this work that I own), and it does everything right. Aesthete below has it nailed.