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Bach: Brandenburg Concertos - Orchestral Suites

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos - Orchestral Suites

14 Dec 2004
4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Disc 2
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Disc 3
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2
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3
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1:53
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17
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 14 Dec. 2004
  • Release Date: 24 Sept. 2007
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 3:10:58
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001J6B86O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,188 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bach's greatest orchestral music neatly packaged onto 3 CDs at a super-bargain price in excellent digital sound performed by a small, first-class modern-instrument ensemble directed to play in a fleet, alert and vivacious manner: what's not to like?

There are some famous names amongst the individual instrumentalists, including Kenneth Sillito, George Malcolm and Iona Brown, all of whom play without a hint of blandness; this is joyfully infectious music-making which will never become wearing on the ear.

I haven't much to add; Marriner could just occasionally stand rightfully accused of miniaturising or smoothing over music, perhaps as a result of simply recording too much and becoming routine but not here. I have traditional tastes in Bach and am fond of Philip Ledger's recording of the Brandenburgs with the English Chamber Orchestra, which is similar in style to Marriner's, and for a weightier approach in the Overtures I love Karl Munchinger and the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, but this Warner set is equally satisfying unless you want period instruments, in which case I would start with Trevor Pinnock.

Otherwise, these thirty year-old recordings provide all you could wish for.
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These are indeed elegant courtly performances and I enjoy this bargain box. If I were to refine my vote I would be easily persuaded to retract the final star from the Brandenburgs as for all the polish and beauty I feel that there is an impersonal veneer that comes between me and absolute enjoyment of the music making here when I compare it to other favourite readings which have a degree more character. It may be that the elegance is that bit too polished, and partly it relates to the recording quality itself which is a pretty polished sound that I find adds a very slight smoothing out of textures to my ears. Nothing that damning in any major sense as I still like these performances and given the bargain price they will provide many people with a great deal of enjoyment, as they do me.

To my ears the real five star performances in this set are what I find to be Marriner's more imaginatively directed accounts of the four orchestral suites which are equally elegant and courtly and somehow have more personality about them and it is for this reason that I feel the set as a whole merits five stars.
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There are of course many recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos and, no doubt, there will be many more. Some of the lesser ones seem to trawl through the scores as if it was all just routine - playing all the notes, but with little conviction or imagination. Here is a set of recordings however which really do seem to bring these works to life. They are played here with enthusiasm as well as being sympathetic to the music itself. Furthermore, the recording is clear and well produced, providing an appreciation of the various strands weaving in and out of these wonderful works that were among Bach's finest gifts. Even if you posses other recordings of the individual concertos, this set is well worth having as a unified presentation of these works. The 'orchestral' pieces are a bonus and the whole represents outstanding value.
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Having heard about the virtues of this set for many years (decades actually), I finally bought it. After all, I thought I knew what I'd be getting with Marriner--the same thing I got in his Haydn symphonies nos. 44 and 48, his William Boyce symphonies, or his Prokofiev Classical symphony or Bizet in C: performances brimming with energy, drama, and high spirits, but which are never rushed and never become tense or breathless in the slightest. The performances in this set are good--make no mistake about that--but they're not what I expected. Marriner's Bach seems respectful and rather staid at times, avoiding too strong a sense of energy or too much rollicking good humor. (In fact, "elegant and courtly," as used in reviews above, would most likely be read as "boring" if used to describe performances of Beethoven or Mahler. Why do we imagine Bach's music is so different?) The 3rd and the 5th in particular here disappointed me slightly in this respect, with opening-movement tempos a little too much on the reserved side. But this set does have the virtue of being consistently good throughout, whereas so many others have one or two outstanding performances and others that are flawed in some respect.

I think the best thing about buying this set was that it got me to listen again to the set by Richard Egarr. While that set features period instruments, it is anything but thin and dry-sounding, and in fact sounds more colorful and richly textured than this Marriner set. And the tempos are livelier but again without ever seeming tense or breathless. That one has my highest recommendation.
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