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This review is from: Six Brandenburg Concertos (Audio CD)
On the basis of reviews and listening to brief excerpts, I decided to buy this recording, which arrived recently from Amazon. My first impressions, having only heard the first disc, were as follows. Yes, the lower pitch produces a darker sound, which is attractive. Most movements tend to be a few seconds slower than, say, Pinnock, which I welcome. However, I find the violin abrasive when playing loudly, even slightly painful to listen to, whether in CD or SACD mode, both on my high quality system and on a much cheaper one. Even in SACD it sounded 'louder' than usual and needed turning down a little from my usual CD position instead of turning up, as usual, with SACD on my machine. Then there is the rhythm. Yes, things generally move along OK, but there is sometimes a regular emphasis which becomes irritating and works against the flow. The 4th movement of the 1st Brandenburg illustrates this. Turning to Pinnock (Brandenburg) there is also a regular emphasis on the strong beat of the triple time but it is less marked and less wearing to listen to. Pinnock seems to see the bigger picture and the result is generally lighter and bouncier than Butt, who emphasises detail more. Pinnock's strings are also a little more abrasive than I would like but less so than on the Linn recording. Pinnock's harpsichord seems 'helped', Butts rather more natural. Having now heard the second disc I would say the first movement of the 4th sounds pressured, though no faster than Pinnock and the first movement of the 5th feels very hasty (nearly a whole minute less than Pinnock). Comparing the larger Pinnock performance with Butt's 1 to a part, there is not a huge difference between them and my ideal, more relaxed performance lies elsewhere or does not exist. Both recordings I find rather tiring to listen to. I hoped this new recording would be more like the Avison's approach but instead it is quite 'cutting edge'. One to keep but not quite my ideal, where I can just enjoy the music.