This is a colossal bargain and I can't enthuse about it enough.
Most of my Bach listening comes under the heading of Period Instruments but there are some recordings such as Milstein's of the solo violin sonatas and partitas which transcend all issues of style. This is one of them.
Joy is the word that springs to mind throughout. Joyous chamber music like playing. Joy at new discovery. Joy at the sublime music making.
There are too many delights to count and whether or not this is what Bach intended (how will we ever know) this is superb musicmaking. Even on that count the string sound is surprisingly bracing and rhythms, especially internal ones, are beautifully sprung. The performers consistently have a ear for Bach's melodies. Even the ubiquitous Air from the 3rd Orchestral Suite is deeply moving.
Mercifully we are beyond arguments about whether this music should be done in period style or not. To adore these recordings is not to advocate a return to this style but rather a celebration of the universal genius of Bach however he is played. Hear both!
This is a valuable very early recording - and with fantastic interpretation. The recording has that early "flat" sound, but that is part of the charm. This is due to the technology available at the time. But the music shines through - this will form a precious part of my collection. Buy now while still available.
I think I'm right in saying that this was the second-ever set of the "Brandenburgs" recorded (the first was Alfred Cortot's somewhat eccentric set in 1932, here, Bach: Brandenburg Concertos); this 3-CD reissue also contains the four Orchestral Suites (in rather less successful performances) and, generally speaking, EMI's remastering of these 1935 recordings is more than acceptable. Although I am very keen on "historic" recordings, it's certainly not the case that they are always worth preserving; this set, however, clearly is! When the old References set came out (here Brandenburg Concertos), the contemporaneous "Penguin Guide" (when they were worth reading) awarded the set a "rosette"; here's why:-
"The Busch version of the Brandenburgs must take a special place. Although modern instruments are used, there is greater "authenticity" of spirit than in many rigid modern performances. Rudolf Serkin, Busch's son-in-law, plays the piano, and the other soloists are all artists of comparable calibre, including Evelyn Rothwell on the oboe, Aubrey Brain (father of Dennis) on the horn, George Eskdale on the Bach trumpet and Marcel Moyse on the flute. Though slow movements are not sentimentalized, the phrasing has full expressive warmth, and speeds are almost always slower than we would expect today. That is also true of many of the fast movements, as in the outer movements of Nos. 1 and 6, but with such bouncy, resilient rhythms the results never drag. The "Suites" also stand up well, but there the interpretation is rather more controversial, when the slow speeds for the introductions do become very heavy without double-dotting. The sound is more than acceptable. The result is watercolour rather than a freshly cleaned oil painting, but the actual performances could hardly be more richly hued."
One can only agree, but I'm not sure that Adolf Busch really understood No.6 very well, as the performance never really gets going, until the scramble that is the finale.
A fascinating document, a true window onto the past, and I do play the set surprisingly often. Recommended, but not as your only set of the "Brandenburgs".