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Brandenburg Concertos

Combattimento Consort Amsterdam

Brandenburg Concertos

Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917214925
Catnr: CC 72149
Release date: 03 September 2007
2 CD
 
Label
Challenge Classics
UPC
0608917214925
Catalogue number
CC 72149
Release date
03 September 2007
Album
Artist(s)
Composer(s)
EN
NL

About the album

J.S. Bach - The Brandenburg Concertos

In 1718 Bach travelled to Berlin to order a new harpsichord for his patron, Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. Presumably, it was during this visit that he came into contact with the margrave of Brandenburg. Christian Ludwig von Brandenburg (1677-1734) resided at the Royal court in Berlin and maintained his own music Kapelle. Bach is known to have performed with the Margrave’s Kapelle during one of his visits to Berlin. It was perhaps on this occasion that he was commissioned to compose a set of concertos for this orchestra. Though a commission from such an influential man as the margrave of Brandenburg must have been an exceptional honour for Bach, it was quite some time before the work was completed. In fact, it was two and a half years later that Bach sent the magrave his Six concerts avec plusieurs instruments, works that have gone down in history as the Brandenburg Concertos.
These concertos may never have been performed by Brandenburg’s Kapelle. When Christian Ludwig died, his ensemble comprised a mere six musicians, too few to perform the Brandenburg Concertos. There are, in addition, reasons to believe that Bach may not have composed these concertos specially for the margrave of Brandenburg, but rather that they were older compositions which he revised and collected in one bundle. On close inspection, the score appears to have been hastily written and in part copied from previous compositions. Indeed, several of these concertos do survive in earlier versions, revealing before reaching their current state these works already had a long history. Viewed from a different perspective, the score’s notation is extremely precise with regard to pages, the number of bars, the number of notes, and so forth. The book Bach en het getal (Bach and numbers), by Van Houten and Kasbergen, Holland Walburgpers, 1985), demonstrates that the score is permeated with number symbolism, even possibly numerically conveying the dates of Bach’s birth and death.

It is currently thought that Bach initially intended the Brandenburg Concertos for the use of the Köthen court Kapelle, of which he was Kapellmeister from 1717 to 1723. The settings in which these works were performed in Kothen can be deduced from the financial records of Prince Leopold’s court. The virtuoso, solo parts would have been performed by the violinist Spieß, the oboist Rose, the flautists Freitag and Wurdig, and the trumpeter Schreiber or Krahl. The remaining court Cammer-Musici (Chamber Musicians) were the violinist Marcus, the cellist Linigke, the viola da gambist Abel and bassoonist Torlee. One must realize that in those days musicians were generally proficient with one or more secondary instruments in addition to their main instrument. Bach himself, for example, would undoubtedly have been the harpsichord soloist in the Fifth Concerto and have performed the first viola part in the Sixth Concerto.
The other viola part was most probably played by the concert-master, Joseph Spieß, and the flautists would have taken the recorder parts for their account. Perhaps, Prince Leopold joined in as second viola da gambist. This would explain the simplicity of the viola da gamba parts: though the first viola da gamba comes to the forefront as soloist in parts of the first movement, it would naturally have been contrary to the etiquette of the time that Herr Abel musically overshadowed Prince Leopold.

The broad setting of the FIRST Brandenburg Concerto indicates that it must have been com- posed for a special occasion for which additional musicians were hired. The horns play a particularly striking role. As there were no hornists in the court Kapelle of Kothen, itinerant hornists were often contracted to perform these parts. The virtuosity of the horn parts and the hunt motifs with which the first movement opens were something new and indicate that the conception of the instrument as being an accessory to the hunt began to give way as it gained acceptance in ‘art-music’. In this concerto the horns are equal partners with the other soloists: three oboes, bassoon and the violino piccolo. The part for this last-mentioned instrument (a somewhat smaller violin tuned a minor third higher) was added in a later version of the work. The third movement (allegro), like the second, in which the violino piccolo plays a richly soloistic role, was also composed at a later date. Furthermore, a Polonaise, a dance-form that was gaining in popularity at the time, was added after the original close. In short, Bach com- bined in this work the three-movement concerto form with that of a short suite.

The SECOND Brandenburg Concerto employs a group of four equally prominent soloists. In this heterogeneous concertino, consisting of violin, recorder, oboe and trumpet, the trumpet part merits special mention for seldom before had the instrument been employed with such virtuosity. While in the first movement the four solo instruments converse as a group of individuals, presenting the various motifs in alternation with each other, the strands of the recorder, oboe, violin and continuo parts in the slow movement are finely interwoven to act as a single instrument. In the third movement, the entrance of the trumpet draws again attention to the special place of this instrument in the solo group.

The THIRD Brandenburg Concerto is a true concerto for strings: three groups of three violins, three violas and three cellos with basso continuo, are presented in the first movement as equal partners. The various motifs are sounded in solos by all the parts. This concerto is singular in that it lacks a middle movement, the first and last movements being joined by a mere two chords. With its virtuoso and exuberantly furious sixteenth-note passages, the last movement stands in stark contrast to the more introverted first movement.

Virtuosity reigns supreme in the FOURTH Brandenburg Concerto, whose ensemble of soloists comprises two recorders and a violin. Unlike the previous concertos, here the concertino is divided: the violin part is independent of that of the two recorders. In the score, Bach refers to these two later instruments as due Fiauti d’Echo. This is probably in reference to their role in the second movement in which they interject small echoes interrupting the melody. In order to realize this effect it is necessary that the recorders be positioned at a distance from the orchestra, thus enhancing the exciting spatial effect in their dialogue with the orchestra. The recorder, an instrument which was then considered the conveyor of a pastoral, erotic atmosphere, is the perfect instrument a for this echo effect, something which in this work is could be seen as a symbol for unrequited love.

Of the FIFTH Brandenburg Concerto, like the First, a Frühfassung has survived. One notable difference between the two versions, however, is that 65 measures have been added to the harpsichord’s solo cadenza. This is the first lengthy, fully notated solo cadenza in music history. Although the flute and violin also participate in the concertino, because of the great independence shown by the harpsichord this concerto has more the nature of a harpsichord concerto. Still, the equality between the harpsichord and other solo instruments seems reaffirmed in the slow movement for the cello does not participate in the basso continuo. The extraordinary virtuosity of the harpsichord part and cadenza must be seen as Bach adding his personal signature to the work.

The SIXTH Brandenburg Concerto is scored exclusively for low strings divided into two groups: two violas with cello, and two viola da gambas with double bass. Johann Mattheson, a contemporary of Bach, characterized B-flat major, the key of this work, as being ‘sehr divertissant und prachtig’ [highly amusing and exquisite]. Indeed, the extreme contrast between the lovely melodic strains of the violas and the pounding accompaniment of the other voices does indeed give rise to a smile. The viola da gambas are silenced in the slow movement, there where the violas attain their highest expressiveness. The last movement, in contrast, blusters with the virtuosity of the two violas and the cello.

For this performance of the Brandenburg Concertos we have sought to effect a compromise between the Mendelssohnian approach to earlier music, particularly that of Bach (Mendelssohn attempted to ‘bring up to date’ early music for the listener of his day), and at the same time to take account of the advances made in authentic performance practice. Additionally, both the ensemble and recording engineers made every effort to give this recording the character of a live performance.

Jan Willem de Vriend
[Translation: John Lyden]
Brandenburgse concerten die klinken als een live optreden
Voor deze uitvoering van de Brandenburgse concerten van Johann Sebastian Bach zocht Jan Willem de Vriend met zijn Combattimento Consort naar een gulden middenweg. Hij vond het de kunst om een compromis te zoeken tussen de manier waarop Mendelssohn oude muziek - vooral die van Bach - aanpaste aan zijn tijd, en een manier om toch rekening te houden met de ontwikkelingen in de authentieke uitvoeringspraktijken. Waarbij het streven was om deze opname het karakter van een live optreden te geven. En dat is De Vriend met zijn ensemble goed gelukt.

In 1718 reisde Bach naar Berlijn om een nieuw klavecimbel te bestellen voor zijn mecenas, Prins Leopold van Anhalt-Köthen. Waarschijnlijk is hij tijdens dat bezoek in contact gekomen met de markgraaf van Brandenburg, Christian Ludwig von Brandenburg. Deze verkeerde op dat moment aan het hof van Berlijn en had zijn eigen muziekkapel. Het is bekend dat Bach tijdens een van zijn bezoekjes aan Berlijn met de kapel van de markgraaf had opgetreden. Het kan zijn dat hem toen gevraagd is om een serie concerten voor het orkest van de markgraaf te componeren. Hoewel een opdracht van zo'n invloedrijk man als de markgraaf van Brandenburg een buitengewone eer voor Bach geweest moet zijn, duurde het nogal lang voordat hij het werk afmaakte. In feite was het tweeënhalf jaar later, toen Bach de markgraaf zijn zes concerten stuurde; werken die als de Brandenburgse concerten de geschiedenis zouden ingaan. De concerten werden helaas nooit door de Brandenburgse kapel uitgevoerd, want toen de markgraaf overleed, bestond zijn ensemble nog maar uit zes musici, te weinig voor de concerten van Bach.

Sinds de oprichting in 1982 door Jan Willem de Vriend heeft het Combattimento Consort Amsterdam zich onder zijn leiding ontwikkeld tot een hecht ensemble, dat gespecialiseerd is in muziek uit de barokperiode. Het gezelschap speelt op hedendaagse instrumenten. Overtuigd als ze zijn dat de klankintensiteit van deze instrumenten beter aansluit bij de huidige concertbezoeker. Combattimento wil klassieke muziek levendig en boeiend maken en komt graag naar de luisteraar toe. De musici richten zich niet alleen op het standaardrepertoire, wat zorgt voor veel interessante programma’s. De concerten met een combinatie van bekende en minder bekende werken zijn voor de luisteraars, maar ook voor de uitvoerenden, verfrissend en inspirerend. Inmiddels is Jan Willem de Vriend gestopt met het ensemble en hebben de overige leden het ensemble in 2014 voortgezet onder de naam Combattimento.

Artist(s)

Combattimento Consort Amsterdam

Over the past 30 years, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam has established a strong national and international reputation. The ensemble is famous for the high quality and energy of its performances. That, together with its varied and often surprising and unfamiliar repertoire, for formations ranging from chamber ensemble to chamber orchestra, and from oratorios to operas, has made it one of the most successful Baroque ensembles in the world. The Combattimento Consort’s roughly 60 performances a year are distinguished by the originality of the ensemble’s presentation, led by one of the trend-setting conductors in Dutch musical life, Jan Willem de Vriend, who in November 2012 received the Radio 4 Prize.   The Combattimento Consort has gone on a number of tours in recent years...
more
Over the past 30 years, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam has established a strong national and international reputation. The ensemble is famous for the high quality and energy of its performances. That, together with its varied and often surprising and unfamiliar repertoire, for formations ranging from chamber ensemble to chamber orchestra, and from oratorios to operas, has made it one of the most successful Baroque ensembles in the world. The Combattimento Consort’s roughly 60 performances a year are distinguished by the originality of the ensemble’s presentation, led by one of the trend-setting conductors in Dutch musical life, Jan Willem de Vriend, who in November 2012 received the Radio 4 Prize.
The Combattimento Consort has gone on a number of tours in recent years to Germany, Spain, Central Europe, South America, Japan, Russia and the United States. It has recorded more than 35 CDs and DVDs – this year, its CD of Handel’s Concerto Grossi op. 6 will be released. The ensemble has worked with prominent soloists such as Barbara Bonney, Andreas Scholl and Sol Gabeta, Thomas Zehetmair and Sabine Meyer, as well as with the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Nationale Reisopera and Cappella Amsterdam. The spearhead of its artistic direction is the performance of unfamiliar and as yet unpublished repertoire. Innumerable searches through libraries, churches and cloisters over the past 30 years have resulted in a notable collection of remarkable performances. In 2007, for example, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam presented Arminio, the only surviving opera of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Over the years, it has developed a distinctive style of playing, which has even come to be known as the “Combattimento School” of performance. Recognizable and energetic, inventive, style-conscious and inspiring. The ensemble presents itself as a “consort”, but with the visibility of the “individual”. Jan Willem de Vriend leads the Combattimento Consort from the “first chair”, appearing as a conductor only in the larger productions (operas and oratorios). The instrumental soloists are in most cases members of the ensemble.

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Jan Willem de Vriend (conductor)

Jan Willem de Vriend, designated “a godsend from the Netherlands” by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, is driven by the pioneering spirit of historically informed perfomance practice. As music director of the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, which he founded in 1982, he specialised in repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries, reviving a wealth of rarely heard works through historically informed performances on modern instruments, praised by Gramophone magazine for their “technical finesse and a lively feeling for characterization”. An award-winner for his creative contribution to classical music, Jan Willem de Vriend has more than 50,000 followers on Spotify and is in demand as a conductor around the world, appearing regularly with such orchestras as the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Residentie Orkest...
more
Jan Willem de Vriend, designated “a godsend from the Netherlands” by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, is driven by the pioneering spirit of historically informed perfomance practice. As music director of the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, which he founded in 1982, he specialised in repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries, reviving a wealth of rarely heard works through historically informed performances on modern instruments, praised by Gramophone magazine for their “technical finesse and a lively feeling for characterization”.
An award-winner for his creative contribution to classical music, Jan Willem de Vriend has more than 50,000 followers on Spotify and is in demand as a conductor around the world, appearing regularly with such orchestras as the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Residentie Orkest Den Haag, Belgian National Orchestra, Tonhalle Zurich, Orchestre National de Lyon, Bergen Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic, the symphony orchestras of Netherlands Radio and Hessischer Rundfunk (Frankfurt Radio Symphony), Melbourne Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic. He is Principal Conductor Designate of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Stuttgart Philharmonic and Orchestre National de Lille, and former Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya and the Brabant Orchestra.
For the Challenge Classics label, de Vriend and the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra have recorded the complete Mendelssohn symphonies and all Beethoven’s symphonies and concertos with, among others, pianist Hannes Minnaar and violinist Liza Ferschtman. De Vriend’s interpretation of the Symphony No 7 prompted Classic FM to admire “a bounding flair that does real justice to the composer’s capacity for joy”. A further landmark of his recorded catalogue is his complete recording of the Schubert symphonies with the Residentie Orkest Den Haag.
De Vriend’s collaborative spirit is equally evident in his work for the stage, notably with opera director Eva Buchmann and Combattimento Consort Amsterdam. In addition to works by Monteverdi, Haydn, Handel and Telemann, their productions in Europe and the USA have included staged versions of Bach’s ‘Hunting’ and ‘Coffee’ Cantatas at the Bachfest Leipzig, and operas by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi and Cherubini, among them Mozart’s Don Giovanni und Rossini’s La gazzetta, both toured in Switzerland. De Vriend has also conducted operatic productions in Amsterdam (with the Nederlandse Reisopera), Barcelona, Strasbourg, Lucerne, Schwetzingen and Bergen.

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Composer(s)

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and hundreds of cantatas. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.  Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.  
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Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and hundreds of cantatas. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.

Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.


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Play album Play album
Disc #1
01.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046 : I. [Allegro]
04:04
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
02.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046 : II. Adagio
03:56
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
03.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046 : III. Allegro
04:11
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
04.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046: IV. Menuetto - Trio - Menuetto - Polonaise - Menuetto - Trio - Menuetto
07:36
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
05.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047 : I. [Allegro]
04:51
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
06.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047 : II. Andante
03:09
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
07.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047: III. Allegro Assai
02:46
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
08.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048 : I. [Allegro]
06:12
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
09.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048 : II. Adagio
00:16
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
10.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048: III. Allegro
04:32
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam

Disc #2
01.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049 : I. Allegro
07:04
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
02.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049 : II. Andante
03:50
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
03.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049 : III. Presto
04:48
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
04.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050 : I. Allegro
09:36
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
05.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050: II. Affettuoso
05:19
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
06.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050 : III. Allegro
05:14
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
07.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat Major, BWV 1051 : I. [-]
06:26
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
08.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat Major, BWV 1051: II. Adagio Ma non Tanto
04:24
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
09.
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat Major, BWV 1051: III. Allegro
05:44
(Johann Sebastian Bach ) Combattimento Consort Amsterdam
show all tracks

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