50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Sheer musicianship, sequence of instrumental delights,
This review is from: Bach: Brandenburg Concertos; Orchestral Suites (Audio CD)
The idea of a "perfect recording" is, of course, chimerical. But Trevor Pinnock's "Brandenburg Concertos" and "Orchestral Suites" come pretty close to the mark. There are two factors which put this 3-CD set in the category "very special": One is the sheer musicianship of the young English Concert team. Every soloist seems to want to outdo the others in technical skill, tonal clarity and emotional verve. Listen to Pinnock himself on the harpsichord in the Brandenburg Concert No. 5; listen to Lisa Beznosiuk accompanying him on the traverse flute; listen to Simon Standage, Philip Pickett and Rachel Beckett in Concert No. 4 ... and so the list goes on. This is an unending sequence of instrumental delights, and only someone who dislikes Baroque period instruments on principle will fail to experience heights of enjoyment of this exquisite sound. Which brings me to the second factor: Seldom have I heard such a brilliant recording! Deutsche Gramophon is generally known for superior sound, but this 1982 piece of digital engineering (Brandenburg Concertos) surpasses anything I have ever heard even from this label: Purity, clarity, spaciousness and presence are uniquely combined to provide a listening experience which could hardly be topped.
The Orchestral Suite sound (analogue recording from 1979/1980) is only slightly less brilliant and also deserves great praise. I have listened to a number of rival recordings, but nothing captivates me quite like the the English Concert discs. The only slight question mark could perhaps be put behind the Sixth Brandenburg Concerto, which in its Adagio slow movement seems to lack a little fire. Generally, Pinnock has chosen tempi that are moderate, and although musicologists and interpreters since this recording (Goebel; Rampe) have argued cogently for faster rhythms, their efforts sound decidedly contrived in comparison with Pinnock's easy, flowing version which caresses the ear without betraying any of Bach's depth or humour. It would suprise me greatly if anyone who bought this CD-box ever regretted it.