Notes and Editorial Reviews
Rich, vibrant sonorities, sensible tempos, exacting ensemble playing, sublime solo performances, and an overall sense of these six works as the uniquely entertaining pieces that Bach intended enters this recent production from Florilegium and Channel Classics into the ranks of reference recordings of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. From the very beginning–Florilegium presents the concertos in reverse numerical order–we’re drawn in and carried along in the smoothly undulating, flowing stream of sound, by the warm resonance of the low, violin-less string timbres, and from there to No. 5’s ingeniously scored tour de force, where the harpsichord famously hogs most of the spotlight from its flute and
violin solo partners, and, on Disc 1, concluding with the warm, woody resonance of the pair of recorders and their violin accomplice in No. 4.
On Disc 2 we can revel in the gritty, gutsy string sound and sharp articulation in No. 3 (concluding with another of those “look how fast I can play” Allegros), a scintillating trumpet in No. 2, and a rousing party of oboes, horns, bassoon, and piccolo violin in No. 1. Florilegium, whose discography includes lots of Telemann, Bach, and Vivaldi, knows baroque style and the manner and technique of period instruments. One note to prospective listeners: the sonic perspective here is close and balances tend to favor the solo instruments, except for the harpsichord in No. 5, in my book a bit too recessed, given its prominent role; whether this is an issue is a matter of personal taste, but you can’t deny the feeling that you’re right in the middle of these performances that faithfully capture the natural sound of an 18th-century instrumental ensemble and give a freshly polished, well-considered take on these beloved masterpieces. Highly recommended.
-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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