Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: EMI Eminence
WORKS: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6
PERFORMER: The Hanover Band/Anthony Halstead
CATALOGUE NO: CD EMX 2201 DDD
Readers looking for a good mid-price version of the Brandenburg Concertos presented on period instruments in a straightforward style, free of controversial theories of interpretation, need look no further. The playing of the Hanover Band is immaculate, the rhythms buoyant, the articulation incisive and the tempos lively without being rushed. There are many felicitous details of instrumental playing – the sparkling recorders in No. 4 and the scintillating harpsichord solo of the versatile Anthony Halstead (he not only directs the ensemble but also plays horn) in No. 5 for instance – and the textures are, on the whole, nicely balanced. The bright recording is another asset.

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If I do have reservations, it’s that Halstead is a little too non-interventionist in his direction. He is inclined to let the music jog along under its own momentum without sufficient regard for shaping its larger perspectives (as, for instance, Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra do so convincingly on Erato). One does feel oneself to be traversing the same ground several times over. Even so, at mid-price, this set is an eminently attractive proposition. Antony Bye