Notes and Editorial Reviews
Hans-Martin Linde settles for no-nonsense performances that avoid reading something into Bach's scores which just might not be there.
The Linde Consort is not as well known in Britain as many other European period-instrument ensembles; some familiar names amongst those taking part in this new recording of the Brandenburg Concertos are Hans-Martin Linde himself (flute and treble recorder), who directs the band. Pere Ros (viola da gamba and violons), Herbert Hoever (violin) and Walter Stiftner (bassoon); Friedemann Immer, who currently seems to be enjoying the position of trumpeter-in-residence to several ensembles engaged in performing the Brandenburgs, is presumably imported for the occasion.
Linde offers very different performances of these demanding concertos from those by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Telefunken) which I reviewed recently in these pages. There I sometimes felt that, whilst always challenging the listener to question his or her preconceived notions of how this music should sound, Harnoncourt occasionally left us with the uncomfortable feeling that he was looking too hard for something different with which to baffle, startle or provoke. Not so with Hans-Martin Linde who settles for 'no-nonsense' performances rather than risk being accused of reading something into Bach's scores which just might not be there. Both directors adopt very similar tempos in each of the six concertos with Linde. a little surprisingly, perhaps, being the speedier of the two: and both ensembles are almost identical in size though not. I hasten to add, in sound. There, I think, the laurels must go to the Vienna Concentus Musicus who, over a period of a quarter of a century, have arrived at a level of technical executancy which is, probably, second to none. Linde's players, though, are no greenhorns in such matters as ensemble, intonation and fluency: indeed, the oboe playing is rather more assured than some, and there are repeatedly fine performances from the leader, Herbert Hoever, whose little improvised cadenza between the two fast movements of Concerto No. 3 is an attractive one. The strings together, however, are not always immaculate: there are rough patches ri Concertos Nos. 3 and 6, though in both cases they get off to particularly impressive starts. Horns are occasionally awry in Concerto No. I though they are splendid in the last Trio.
Friedemann Immer's restrained and delicate trumpet playing lightly dominates a fine performance of Concerto No. 2. As we might expect it's almost a mirror image of that which he gave us with Harnoncourt, right down to, dare I say it, the same little mistake in bar 54 of the opening movement Linde's tempos are steadier than Harnoncourt's in this concerto and oboe and recorder ensemble is tidier, too, especially in the Andante. Linde takes a more leisurely view than most of the opening movement of the Fourth Concerto in G major. At first I thought it was too slow but, on repeated listening, 1 am beginning to change my mind. There is plenty of detail here and the players avoid making the music sound laboured in any way; and the fugal third movement is treated to an appropriately resolute, though by no means inflexible, performance. Whilst I didn't particularly like the sound of the Taskin copy by Dowd of a harpsichord dating from the late 1760s—elsewhere a copy of a Dulcken is used—I found every other aspect of Linde's Fifth Brandenburg preferable to that of Harnoncourt. The concertante trio of flute, violin and harpsichord is well balanced throughout and is particularly effective in the Affettuoso where, of course, they have the music to themselves.
It must be quite plain by now that there can be no clear-cut preferences for either of these recent sets. Both seem to me to achieve a very high standard of technical and interpretative performance. Both Linde and Harnoncourt have sought to reach the heart of this music by employing the outward means which comply most closely with the wishes of the composer. Harnoncourt's little insights to these infinitely subtle works, together with his fearless destruction of the 'traditional' approach are things which I would not happily be without; but it is Linde's group, all of whom owe a debt of gratitude to the pioneering Vienna Concentus Musicus, who perhaps give us the more satisfying performances in this instance.
-- Gramophone [10/1982]
reviewing the original LP release, HMV SLS5256