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Bach: Brandenburg Concerti, Orchestral Suites / Busch, Busch Chamber Players


Release Date: 12/10/2007 
Label:  Emi Classics Références Catalog #: 64047   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Aubrey BrainAdolf BuschMarcel MoyseRudolf Serkin
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This most celebrated of all recordings of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos was made in 1935 and the four Orchestral Suites, also happily included in this three-disc set, a year later. When Adolf Busch performed and recorded the Brandenburgs during the 1930s there was already an awakening interest in the interpretation of baroque and pre-baroque music. Nadia Boulanger's 1937 recording of Monteverdi madrigals provides further evidence and together with these Bach discs stands as an important landmark signposting much of what has subsequently taken place. Busch did not make concessions towards a growing awareness of period instruments, spearheaded above all by Arnold Dolrnetsch; indeed, he could hardly have done so since he would not have been Read more able to find a sufficient number of experienced players to draw from. And so in these Brandenburgs the violino piccolo part in Concerto No. I is played on a standard violin, flutes rather than recorders are used in the Second and Fourth Concertos, piano instead of harpsichord is both used as keyboard continuo throughout and as concertante instrument in Concerto No. 5 and in the Sixth Concerto cellos supplant the viole da gamba.

All this may sound heretical to readers who have grown up with period-instrument performances of the past quarter century or so; yet only the most prejudiced and insensitive ears could fail to respond to the enlightened musicianship which emerges from these interpretations. What Busch was obliged to forego in respect of the tonal colours that Bach stipulated he compensated for in his almost visionary grasp of the essentially chamber character of the music. Many since have fielded a band at least twice the size of Busch's doing greater harm to the music than any 'wrong' instruments in the right hands. The most consistently convincing of Busch's Brandenhurgs is, perhaps, the First Concerto. Tempos are well chosen—that is a feature of the set almost as a whole—textures are transparently clear and there are outstanding contributions from Evelyn Rothwell, Busch—their partnership in the Adagio is full of poetry—and the two horn-players, Aubrey Brain and Francis Bradley.

In Concerto No. 2 the trumpeter George Eskdale provides a shining example of restrained and beautifully phrased playing which, alas, has not always been emulated by succeeding generations of trumpeters. The Third Concerto is relaxed and crisply articulated though a little untidy in ensemble at times, while the Fourth features the flautists Marcel and Louis Moyse with Busch himself taking the virtuoso concertante violin part. This is a wonderfully animated performance with delicate continuo accompaniment by Rudolf Serkin. Serkin comes into his own, of course, in the Fifth Concerto, where he is joined by Busch and Marcel Moyse in a notably expressive account of the work. Serkin's playing here is delicately shaded, possessing a sensibility which calls to mind that of Lipatti in his Bach playing. The Sixth Concerto is unquestionably the least successful. Busch certainly misjudged the character of this work and one can almost sense his bewilderment in the ponderous opening movement where he seems uncertain as to what the music is about. The Adagio fares better but is too slow and the finale is rather a scramble.

The Orchestral Suites though seldom uninteresting in these performances are more variable in result. Evelyn Rothwell's oboe playing is among the brightest constellations here, but there are fine contributions from George Eskdale (Suites Nos. 3 and 4), Marcel Moyse (No. 2) and, of course, Busch himself. Some dance measures are effectively judged, though menuets are heavy-footed and too slow, and the overtures themselves likewise. Nevertheless, there are plenty of features in Busch's recording which lift it far above mere documentary significance, and no one interested in evolving styles, accomplished musicianship or indeed Bach's music itself should overlook this historical landmark. The digital remastering from 78s is astonishingly successful and LS's notes are lively and informative. An important addition to EMI's splendid Références series.

-- N.A., Gramophone [12/1991]
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Works on This Recording

1. Suite for Orchestra no 4 in D major, BWV 1069 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
2. Brandenburg Concerto no 1 in F major, BWV 1046 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Aubrey Brain (French Horn), Adolf Busch (Violin)
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717; ?Cöthen, Germany 
3. Brandenburg Concerto no 2 in F major, BWV 1047 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Marcel Moyse (Flute), Adolf Busch (Violin)
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1718; ?Cöthen, Germany 
4. Brandenburg Concerto no 4 in G major, BWV 1049 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Adolf Busch (Violin), Marcel Moyse (Flute)
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; ?Cöthen, Germany 
5. Brandenburg Concerto no 5 in D major, BWV 1050 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Adolf Busch (Violin), Marcel Moyse (Flute), Rudolf Serkin (Piano)
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720-1721; ?Cöthen, Germany 
6. Brandenburg Concerto no 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1710; ?Weimar, Germany 
7. Suite for Orchestra no 1 in C major, BWV 1066 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
8. Suite for Orchestra no 2 in B minor, BWV 1067 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Marcel Moyse (Flute)
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1738 - 1739). 
9. Suite for Orchestra no 3 in D major, BWV 1068 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1731; Leipzig, Germany 
10. Brandenburg Concerto no 3 in G major, BWV 1048 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Adolf Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Busch Chamber Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1711-1713; ?Weimar, Germany 

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