Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2; Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Brandenburg Concerto No. 4; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Accord
WORKS: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2; Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Brandenburg Concerto No. 4; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6
PERFORMER: Orchestre Musica Antiqua/Christian Mendoze
CATALOGUE NO: 206802
Early signs are encouraging. Both groups begin the first concerto fresh, bright and lively. Orchestre Musica Antica favour a crisp and rhythmic style, solo horns a shade shy until a refreshingly audacious Trio in the last movement. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, meanwhile, nicely diversify the Menuetto by omitting strings in its second repeat. If a disaster is going to occur, it’s in No.2, and so it proves with OMA. The solo trumpet is never on top of things, garbling the notes as he struggles to keep up, while the recorder is all but drowned out. In the Andante the trumpet has a not very well-earned rest, but the recorder’s tuning goes to pot. Now one wishes it was drowned out, or simply drowned. The OAE take this concerto slower and balance the solo instruments more successfully, but neither group covers themselves in glory. No.3 sees some rhythmic hesitancy from OAE, while OMA turn in an exhilarating last movement, the sheer fun of playing abundantly communicating itself. In No.4, spurred to excellence by inspired leadership and violin playing by Monica Huggett, OAE excel. Both No.5’s feature a magnificently deranged harpsichord solo, but OAE outshines OMA with a more spirited opening Allegro and more affecting Affetuoso. In fact, all the OAE slow movements are to be preferred. In the final concerto OAE’s superiority is clearest, the two solo violas outstanding and ensemble playing faultless. For an immensely stylish and exciting alternative, with less accident-prone second concerto, try Il Giardino Armonico. Christopher Wood

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