J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Brandenburg Concertos

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Il Giardino Armonico
Soloists:Alberto Grazzi
Alberto Stevanin
Andrea Mion
Duilio Galfetti
Elena Russo
Enrico Onofri
Francesco Lattuada
Gabriele Cassone
Giovanni Antonini
Luca Pianca
Marco Bianchi
Marco Cera
Marco Testori
Maria Cristina Vasi
Michele Barchi
Paolo Beschi
Paolo Biordi
Paolo Grazzi
Petr Zejfart
Stefano Barneschi
Vanni Moretto
Vittorio Ghielman
Viola da Gamba
Individual Works:Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046
Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047
Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049
Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050
Concerto No. 6 in B-flat major, BWV 1051
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Teldec
Year Released/Recorded:1997
Related Web Site:http://www.ilgiardinoarmonico.com/
Comments:Herbert Reichart said:

The most "speaking" record I have ever heard, of a group of works of which so many weak records of so many good musicians exist.

Review by Jan Hanford:

This is certainly the worst performance of the Brandenburgs Concertos I have ever heard. I was warned they play very fast which is not necessarily bad. But this is a mess. It's not their speed, even when playing at an appropriate tempo they miss the nuances and phrasing and too many of Bach's beautiful and intricate melodies fly past in an incomprehensible blur, or just stop dead rather than end with a delicate (and expected) diminuendo.

For me, the real measure of a performance is the slow movements which in these works I find emotional and often profoundly moving. Not here. This performance lacks any sensitivity or emotion whatsoever. Their phrasing is awkward and the mix is unbalanced; the instruments do not blend at all.

This is not an ensemble, it is a collection of soloists who seem so impressed with their own virtuosity that they don't know when to switch it off and just play the music. Throughout all the concertos their seemingly random and inappropriate variation of dynamics (loud and soft) is distracting and their odd phrasing makes this an extraordinarily unpleasant experience. The unusual use of the lute in the Sixth Concerto is pointless and only adds to the muddle of their bizarre dynamic variation. And the horns in the First Concerto; it's like being at a fox hunt. "Authentic", perhaps; enjoyable, no. "Blat, blat, blat" with the strings going "chop, chop, chop." I had great difficulty even sitting through it. The only good part about their speed is that it's over sooner.

Any recording of the Brandenburg Concertos is preferable to this one, even ones I've previously not recommended.

Professor R Davie said:

This recording is a fresh approach to some of J S Bach's most often played concertos. It is lively, assertive and youthful in spirit. You will love it or hate it. Jan Hanford clearly leans toward the latter. I am unapologetically in the former camp. In fact I have not heard a recording of the Brandenburgs which I have found so stimulating. It is true that the baroque horns sound 'brassy' but they may well have sounded like that to JSB. Since (like Ms Hanford) I wasn't there, I don't know. However, after the initial quite arresting impact, I did not find them overintrusive and after several hearings they seemed to become a vital part of the whole. This group of young instrumentalists are strident as well as highly accomplished but - unlike Ms Hanford, again - I discerned a coherence and a structure which was satisfying and delightful. Beauty, it seems, is often in the ear as well as the eye of the beholder. Reviewers, please note !

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Herbert Reichart
  • Professor R Davie
And unfortunately from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:12/27/1997