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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully warm and affectionate Brandenburgs, 1 July 2012
This review is from: Bach: The Six Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046 - BWV 1051 (Le Concert Des Nations) (Audio CD)
For years now I have considered the finest two recordings of these much loved Bach concertos to be by the Italians:Giovanni Antonini's "Il Giardino Armonico" and Rinaldo Alessandrini's "Concerto Italiano". Both are exuberant, vital and fizzing with energy and the choice between them would depend on which engineering you preferred...Il Giardino Armonico being the more diamond bright of the two and for me, a slightly preferable acoustic but both are wonderfully analytical in their revealing of every inner part.

BUT....occasionally, i'm in the mood to hear these endlessly fascinating pieces played in a more relaxed manner and this is where Jordi Savall's multi-national "Le Concert des Nations" comes in...a team that boasts names as individually famous as Fabio Biondi and Pierre Hantai. Theirs is a warmer, mellower view than either of the afore-mentioned but still wearing a broad smile on it's face. Tempi tend to be marginally slower, the bass line is richer and..well bassier(!) giving the music a more grounded, fulsome texture, and the beautifully captured acoustic too enhances this aura of mellow pleasure, as if watching these Brandenburgs with a sunset over the sea, compared to the dazzle of the noon-day sun on the waters of the two Italian versions (...forgive my flight of fancy!).
This approach makes No.6, which often comes over as the weakest of the set, particularly gorgeous in Savall's performance. It's slow movement, and indeed all the slow movements are expansive and made more substantial and rewarding in their own right whereas in the other versions i sometimes feel they are simply make-weights between the virtuosity of the outer movements.

Make no mistake, this is brilliant playing and a highly evolved interpretation. I would advise owning this version and one of the Italians (...I would plump for Giardino Armonico...) and both will bring you lasting and contrasting pleasure, depending on your mood of the moment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars J S Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos" from the Concert des Nations directed by Jordi Savall, 19 Jan 2013
By 
Mr. Mark A. Meldon (Somerset UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bach: The Six Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046 - BWV 1051 (Le Concert Des Nations) (Audio CD)
Now that Jordi Savall has successfully negotiated the reissue rights to releases he and his various family members and bands made for the long-gone (and much missed, in some quarters) Astrée label (as in here, Brandenburg Concerti 1-6), several interesting recordings are seeing the light of day again. Chief among them is this terrific set of "Brandenburgs" that lopes along in it's happy way - the set has been lovingly remastered and the set comes, beautifully packaged, as always with Alia Vox, on two hybrid SACDs. I do have a two-channel SACD player and I do think that the higher resolution layer brings an improvement to the sound, but the music sounds pretty good on my other CD player, too.

At the time this recording was made (in 1991), Le Concert des Nations comprised lots of musicians who were well-known and/or about to become well-known. Aside from Savall, we have Fabio Biondi, Pierre and Marc Hantaļ and Bruno Cocset, to name but a few. All those years ago, the band really hit a nice "groove", and an old "Penguin Guide" was quite enthusiastic:-

"Savall's period-instrument set of the "Brandenburgs" is engagingly fresh. Textures are clear and often translucent, allegros are spirited but never rushed, tempi are well judged (No.3 is just right) and slow movements are warmly expressive yet perfect in style. There is some breathtaking bravura from the hand horns in No.1, especially in the closing "Polacca & Trio", but Friedmann Immer's slightly throttled trumpet sounds in No.2 are less appealing. At other times, ensemble and intonation are not without flaw, but there is no edginess from the strings, and the spontaneous vitality of this playing carries the day. Not a first choice but an enjoyable one when the sound is so pleasing."

Along with Parrott (here, Brandenburg Concerti 1-6), the OAE (here Bach: Brandenburg Concertos), Tafelmusik (here, Brandenburg Concertos) and the Scottish Ensemble (here, Bach: Brandenburg Concertos, Violin Concertos), this Alia Vox set is brilliant (and reminds us just how many good recordings were made in the late 1980s and early 1990s of the "Brandenburgs").

Highly recommended!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sombre but accurate?, 23 Jun 2010
This review is from: Bach: The Six Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046 - BWV 1051 (Le Concert Des Nations) (Audio CD)
While the musicians are clearly talented and their playing is beautifully cohesive, there doesn't seem to be much joie de vivre here. Perhaps 'sombre and reverential' is a more apt description? However, whether or not such an interpretation is accurate, I'm not qualified to comment.

Also, whereas Jordi Savall's recordings are usually a benchmark for audiophiles, this recording sounds slightly 'wooly', even on a SACD-compatable player - a consequence of the original recording's age (1990) or poor re-mastering?

FWIW, I much prefer the John Eliot Gardiner/English Baroque Soloists' 2009 version.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best version so far, 16 Sep 2011
This review is from: Bach: The Six Brandenburg Concertos BWV 1046 - BWV 1051 (Le Concert Des Nations) (Audio CD)
There are a lot of excellent versions of these Brandenburg Concertos (Suzuki, Alessandrini, Antonioni, to name a few), but they all don't have that relaxed, easy-going performance that we have here. The tempi are rather slow, what makes the textures even more clearly. The recording dates from the early 90's and is now available for SACD equipment. Glorious playing from Savall and his team makes this one of the very best recordings available!
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