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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos / Freiburg Baroque

Bach, J.s. / Freiburger Barockorchester
Release Date: 03/11/2014 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 902176   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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CD:  $23.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BACH Brandenburg Concertos Freiburger Barockorchester (period instruments) HARMONIA MUNDI 902176-7 (2 CDs: 90:11)

How’s this for a coincidence? The day before this set arrived from Tenafly I ordered the Freiburger Barockorchester’s 2000 EuroArts video of the Brandenburg Concertos , an indulgence I had obviously long postponed. It was well worth the wait. A review in another publication, which I won’t name, liked the performances but found the visual Read more aspect rather joyless. I agree on the performance but am a little more forgiving of the musicians, whom I’d characterize as serious but hardly dour. Great music is a great joy, but getting it right can be demanding. I must say that their constant bobbing and weaving did put me in mind of a water polo match—albeit a high-scoring one on an Olympic level.

There have been changes in Freiburg over the years. Most notably, the EuroArts DVD made it clear that Gottfried von der Goltz was the leader of the ensemble, but his name is democratically missing on Harmonia Mundi’s cover. It’s probably safe to assume that he is still first among equals, though. Although he yields the spotlight to Petra Müllejans in Concerto No. 5, he solos in Nos. 2 and 4. He is—and was—third violin in No. 3 (Müllejans leads) but sits in the first chair in No. 1 and is the sole ripieno violinist in the chamber-sized No. 5. And, since the order of presentation is 1, 6, 2; 3, 5, 4, he gets the last word, about which more later. Detecting personnel changes is hampered by the fact that EuroArts, unlike Harmonia Mundi, listed only the soloists on the 2000 DVD. Besides von der Goltz, only Christian Goosses and Ulrike Kaufmann (violas, No. 6) remain as soloists. Ann-Kathrin Brüggemann (oboe) replaces Katharina Arfken in No. 2, though Arfkin, as lead oboist in No. 1, gets her licks. Anne Katharina Schreiber takes the violin piccolo solo from Daniela Helm, now the lead second violin. Jaroslav Rou?ek (trumpet) is the new Friedemann Immer, and Sebastian Weinand successfully replaces Michael Behringer as harpsichord soloist in No. 5 with Tosten Johann playing in the other five concertos. The most intriguing switch is Susanne Kaiser (flute, No. 5) for Karl Kaiser. Are they related? I haven’t been able to dig up an answer. What hasn’t changed is the quality of the participants, who are first-rate from top to bottom. EuroArts, unfortunately, neglected to name the horn players in No. 1. In the new version they are Bart Aerbeydt and Gijs Laceulle, two of the best reasons to like this set. Their exuberance sets the tone for the whole enterprise.

The performances are on the swift side—energetic, confident, and precise, and generally straightforward. Von der Goltz takes a few liberties in No. 4, but not enough to detract for the overall splendid impression. Sight unseen, the new Freiburger Barockorchester’s Brandenburg s rise tantalizingly close to the top of my favorites list. It’s still hard to dislodge Pinnock (Archiv or Avie), but the Freiburgers give him a run for the money.

FANFARE: George Chien
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Works on This Recording

Brandenburg Concerto no 1 in F major, BWV 1046 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717; Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 2 in F major, BWV 1047 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1718; Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 3 in G major, BWV 1048 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1711-1713; Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 4 in G major, BWV 1049 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720-1721; Germany 
Brandenburg Concerto no 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1710; Germany 

Featured Sound Samples

Brandenburg Concerto no 2: I.-
Brandenburg Concerto no 5: III. Allegro

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  4 Customer Reviews )
 Horn Players and Oboists February 8, 2017 By Rodrigo Ramos See All My Reviews "The horn players on the 2000 release was Erwin Wieringa and Teunis Van Der Zwart, but for me the great question is who was de "middle" oboist? i know that Katharina Arfken was in the left and Saskia Fikentscher was in the right, but i have no idea about the middle oboist, i think she is Xenia Loffler, but i'm not sure about it.." Report Abuse
 Freiburg Baroque July 7, 2015 By Eugene P. (San Francisco, CA) See All My Reviews "Elegant expressive Brandenburgs from this virtuosic ensemble. The instrumental color heard from these performances but from few other recordings are brought out by the excellent natural, transparent and balanced recording." Report Abuse
 A sheer delight April 23, 2014 By Bernard A J. (Kansas City, MO) See All My Reviews "For anyone who loves Bach and the Brandenburg Concertos as I do, this recording will blow you away. The Freiburger BarockOrchester has already given us the Orchestral Suites in a whole new way to hear the Suites, and they do not disappoint on this album. The Brandenburg Concertos, I can assure you are played with elegance as well as having great fun in playing Bach's music in only the way that they can do it. A must for all Bach lovers." Report Abuse
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