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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2009

Originally recorded in 2009


Gardiner, John Eliot

Malcolm Proud


Anneke Scott


Michael Niesemann


Neil Brough


Jane Rogers


Kati Debretzeni


English Baroque Soloists


Cité de la Musique, Paris

10-12 Jan 2009

Cadogan Hall, London

13 Apr 2009


Isabella de Sabata


Andrew Mellor

Mike Hatch

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 92:25
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  Brandenburg Concertos  
  CD 1  



Concerto No.1 BWV 1046 in F major

1 [Allegro] 3:43
2 Adagio 3:51
3 Allegro 3:52
4 Menuet 1:15
5 Trio I 1:32
6 Menuet 0:39
7 Polonaise 1:46
8 Menuet 0:37
9 Trio II 1:00
10 Menuet 0:47

Concerto No.2 BWV 1047 in F major

11 [Allegro] 4:25
12 Andante 3:40
13 Allegro assai 2:35

Concerto No.3 NWB 1048 in G major

14 [Allegro] 5:23
15 Adagio 1:55
16 Allegro 4:41
  CD 2  

Concerto No.4 BWV 1049 in G major

17 Allegro 6:32
18 Andante 3:46
19 Presto 4:32

Concerto No.5 BWV 1050 in D major

20 Allegro 9:17
21 Affettuoso 6:07
22 Allegro 5:07

Concerto No.6 BWV 1051 in B flat major

23 [Allegro] 5:32
24 Adagio ma non tanto 4:37
25 Allegro 5:14

    “You can hand the palm to Vivaldi for the mysterious pathos of [Bach’s] slow movements and the surface brilliance of his foot-tapping rhythms, but when it comes to hitting a propulsive rhythmic groove, no-one is a match for JS Bach." - John Eliot Gardiner (excerpt from John Eliot Gardiner’s notes)

John Eliot Gardiner and his superb period-instrument chamber orchestra, English Baroque Soloists, record their unique interpretation of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos for the very first time.

Gardiner only conducts two of the six concertos. The responsibility of performing the remaining four is left to the hand-picked musicians of the English Baroque Soloists led by the brilliant, Kati Debretzeni, a true Konzertmeisterin and the inspirational presiding virtuoso of this project.

This recording follows a phenomenal 11-concert residency at the Spitalfieds Music Winter Festival in December 2008 and January 2009. John Eliot Gardiner led the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir in performances of JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Brandenburg Concertos and Motets. Every concert was well received by public and press alike, with standing ovations from the sell-out audiences and high critical acclaim:

    “Gardiner encouraged rampaging exuberance from his excellent horns, subtle dynamic variations from oboes and strings, and some unusually complex phrasing…delivered with such conviction.” – The Times

The six “Brandenburg” Concertos, described by Bach as ‘Concertos for several instruments’, are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque. Now considered a benchmark of Baroque music, the concertos still have the power to move people almost three centuries later.

The booklet includes a long note by John Eliot Gardiner entitled ‘A conductor-less slant on the Brandenburg Concertos’ and entries by each member of the English Baroque Soloists where they discuss their personal experience of recording the Brandenburg Concertos.

"These are the most electrifying Brandenburg concertos to hit the market in a long while. John Eliot Gardiner conducts two of them. Otherwise, his superb period-instrument musicians navigate Bach’s fun and games for themselves. The horns in the first concerto whoop quite rudely; but every instrumental colour is bold, in tune with Bach’s daring mix of unlikely solo partners. The best qualities of all? The ebullience, the clarity and the springing gait. An irresistible record."   *****

Geoff Brown

The Times - 27 October 2009

"John Eliot Gardiner’s discography runs across four decades, and by now includes most of the canonical works of the 17th and 18th centuries, but extraordinarily he has never before made a recording of perhaps the best known of all Bach’s instrumental works. In an essay accompanying this new set, taken from concerts in London and Paris earlier this year, Gardiner explains that while he has regularly included the first and second Brandenburgs in his concerts, those were the only works in the set that he felt were “grand and complex enough” to require a conductor. Here, then, Gardiner saw himself as facilitator rather than director, offering advice to his hand-picked musicians, led by violinist Kati Debretzeni, rather than laying down the musical law, and the results do have the feeling of, if not chamber music-making, enhanced by the vivid closeness of the recording. There are so many excellent recordings of the Brandenburgs that deciding on any one comes down to personal taste, but this set is a fine example of the mainstream period-instrument approach."    ****

Andrew Clements

The Guardian

..."Although I’ve not had this recording for very long, I can already tell that it’s going to offer lasting listening pleasure. I’m just starting to relish the subtleties of phrasing and articulation – so many little new ideas – which one easily misses the first few times one listens. None of the concertos stands out from the pack as markedly more impressive or insightful than the others. Indeed, what particularly catches the ear are the final fast movements – where the relish of the dance is perfectly balanced with a deep understanding of the textural and rhetorical riches just beneath the surface. For the last four concertos in particular, this is unmissable."

Simon Heighes


International Record Review

"...The ensemble playing is a model of cohesive teamwork, but the players also shine as individuals in the many virtuoso solo passages peppered throughout the set, bringing excitement to some ear-poppingly difficult writing without ever losing the line of musical thought..."

Charlotte Gardner

BBC Online

"The Brandenburgs are a surprising gap in the discography of so dedicated a Bachian as John Eliot Gardiner. Even now, he hasn’t really filled it. His name graces the cover of his label’s lavishly presented discs, but he takes a back seat to the principal violinist and soloist, Kati Debretzeni, relegating his own role to that of adviser, second pair of ears and booklet annotator – his essays are always a pleasure to read, scholarly and passionate. At last year’s Spitalfields winter festival, he programmed the concertos in six concerts, as “interludes” between the Bach motets and the cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio. All were recorded live at the Cité de la Musique, Paris, in January, except No 5, at the Cadogan Hall in April. Gardiner sees Bach’s unique set of concerti grossi (grand concertos) as chamber works, with only Nos 1 – scored for three oboes, two horns, bassoon and strings – and 2 – with violin, recorder, oboe, recorder and clarion (high trumpet) solos – considering large-scale works. Even with this hands-off approach, however, Gardiner’s Bachian zeal hovers over the performances: these are refreshingly unmannered accounts, brilliantly played. Neil Brough’s clarion, in the exposed solos of the F major’s outer movement, amazingly matches the delicacy of the recorder, oboe and violin, never drowning them out. The Fourth – for violin and two recorders – and Fifth – with solo violin, flute and harpsichord – have rarely sounded more intimate, while the all-string concertos, the Third and the violinless Sixth, tingle with the spirit of baroque dance."      *****


The Sunday Times

                                     PERFORMANCE *****   RECORDING *****

                                A spirited set of Brandenburgs

"Here’s a performance to chase the winter blues away, as John Eliot Gardiner and his English Baroque Soloists add a spring to Bach..."

..."Here, at last, is a set of Brandenburg Concertos whose constituent elements are pretty well uniformly satisfying and which is proving to be a constant delight. It is not only that the playing is consistently excellent, but also that the performers, individually and corporately, enter Bach’s dialogue with such eloquently measured declamation."...

Nicholas Anderson

BBC Music Magazine

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