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Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 2 And 5 (Levine)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar musicians in their prime deliver delightful Bach 8 April 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In many ways this is a special recording. It features first-desks from the Chicago Sym. playing two of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, and so far beyond the average Baroque ensemble are they that one yearns for the other four. Just to hear the amazing trumpet solos in Concerto no. 2 by the legendary Adolph Herseth repays the cost of the CD. But we also get James Levine doing double duty at the harpsichord in Concerto no. 5. One deficit from the rise of period performance is that non-specialists have been driven out. The days when an all-around musician like Levine or Leonard Bernstein performed Bach and Handel are more or less over, and their replacements, to be tactful, are not on such an exalted level of talent.

The two Brandenburgs are played in a celebratory mood, not the usual sewing-machine style we've gotten used to, but they aren't "romantic" in any way that I can detect, unless using a flute in place of a recorder is romantic. Next up is the "Wedding" Cantata, recorded at the same session with a young Kathleen Battle as soprano soloist -- she was 29 at the time, and with Levine as mentor would go on to superstardom (both come from Cincinnati, by the way). The singer's voice and artistry are fully formed, and she is lucky to have Levine as such an accomplished conductor (Battle's later solo albums of Bach are not led this well). To fill out this fairly generous (68 min.) CD we get a very good Orchestral Suite no. 3 recorded by James Galway in 1991.

I hadn't noticed before that Sony BMG has quietly employed their best remastering technique (DSD and SBM) for this budget line. Just a few years ago both were touted on the cover and commanded a bit extra in cost. As it is, however, the sound here is still rather bright on top. that's the only small criticism of an otherwise delightful Bach prgoram featuring first-rate musicians all around.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Brandenburgs 21 Nov. 2012
By Tim Cunningham - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Both Brandenburg concertos age given beautiful readings. As a brass player trained to professional level, I deeply appreciate the solo trumpet playing of Mr. Herseth, but it is Mr. Levine's stellar harpsichord playing in #5 that is the highlight of this disc. A very difficult cadenza is played with perfect ease and clarity, yet he effortlessly draws listeners into the Bach's wonderful structure of tension building and relaxation.
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Delightful 17 Oct. 2013
By scholarboy - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A true concert on CD. And the sound is wonderful-very natural and without any sense of CD-glare. To be honest, there are probably a number of these pieces that could be even more highly recommended in other versions-but these recordings are highly MUSICAL! And that, coupled with the easy on the ears sound make them a must buy. Battle was so wonderful-just the right piquancy and inflections in her voice for Bach.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent preformance 6 Oct. 2008
By L. Maxwell - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have several renditions of the Brandenburg Concertos, but this performance soars above the rest. Not being a trained musician, I cannot define the difference, but there is definitely a difference. I doubt you will regret purchasing this disk.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 12 Jan. 2013
By rtopbrass - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I would recommend this recording to anyone looking for a great performance and who wants a very good example while studying the literature. I found it to be a recording tha i have listened to over and over.
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