COMPOSERS: JS Bach
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach
WORKS: Brandenburg Concertos Nos 1-6
PERFORMER: European Brandenburg Ensemble/Trevor Pinnock
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2119
Trevor Pinnock’s earlier recording of the Brandenburgs has seldom if ever been out of the catalogues since it was issued 25 years ago. In the new version, with his recently formed European Brandenburg Ensemble Pinnock, in his own words, ‘invited players from different countries and of different generations to join my new voyage of exploration’. What Pinnock’s two recordings share in common is a refreshingly natural feeling for Bach’s music, unencumbered by dogma or current fad. There’s an interesting experimental dimension, though, in the introduction of two differing sizes of bass stringed instrument. Thus the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Concertos feature a higher pitched 8 ft violone, while the First and Third concertos sport a 16 ft violone grosso sounding an octave below cello pitch. The contrast in texture and resonance afforded by the two sizes is striking.
Like Pinnock’s earlier set with the English Concert, the newcomer is a rewarding all-rounder. It displays Pinnock’s seemingly unassailable ability to choose an effective, just tempo for each movement, and his infectious rhythmic energy both as director from the harpsichord and as accomplished soloist in the Fifth Concerto where the three protagonists – Beatrix Hülsemann (violin), Katy Bircher (flute) and Pinnock himself offer up a tenderly alluring account of the Affettuoso. Moreover, Hülsemann makes an outstanding contribution to the Fourth Concerto; indeed, her playing just tips the scales in favour of this set as my new benchmark. In summary, this is a spendid achievement.