J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Brandenburg Concertos

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Neville Marriner
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Academy of St.Martin-in-the-Fields
Soloists:Disc One:
Carl Pini, Violino piccolo
Celia Nicklin, Barry Davis, Angela Tennick & Heinz Holliger, Oboe
Graham Sheen, Bassoon
Timothy Brown & Julian Baker, Horn
Henryk Szeryng & Kenneth Sillito, Violin
Michala Petri, Recorder
Andre Bernard, Trumpet
Denis Vigay, Cello
John Birch & John Toll , Harpsichord
Disc Two:
Henryk Szeryng, Violin
Michala Petri & Elisabeth Selin, Recorder
Jean-Pierre Rampal, Flute
George Malcolm & John Toll, Harpsichord
Stephen Shingles & Roger Best, Viola
Dennis Nesbitt & Marily Sansom, Viole da gamba, Denis Vigay, Cello
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:Philips
Catalog Number:
    disc 1: 400 076-2
    disc 2: 400 077-2
Year Released/Recorded:Recorded 1980
This edition released 1990
For those who still cannot quite attune their ears to the style of string playing favoured by the authentic school, there are several excellent alternatives. Marriner's analogue Philips set has been remastered since it was first issued and the sound is both natural and lively. Above all, these performances communicate warmth and enjoyment; and they are strong in personality, with Henryk Szeryng, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Michala Petri adding individuality to three of the concertos without breaking the consistency of beautifully sprung performances. George Malcolm is the ideal continuo player, as he is in the later HMV recording.

This is another of my series, "Which Brandenburg?"

This is a very safe recording and I highly recommend it to both novice and expert. The orchestra is not huge, nor is it too small. The recording is both warm and lively. St. Martin-in-the-Fields is one of those extremely reliable orchestras whose performances are always excellent and I would recommend anything by them.
Once again, we have a long list of superstar soloists: Heinz Holliger, George Malcolm, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Michala Petri. There's a reason these names are superstars: their playing is expressive and true to the score. I have found that with some of the newer soloists they feel they have to put their "personal stamp of interpretation" on what they're playing and feel obligated to produce something "new." Sometimes it works and is terrific but too many times it produces something unlistenable and the melodies are not even recognisable. I find this to be true of a few pianists, some instrumental soloists and a few conductors. Maybe I'm just a musical fuddy-duddy but I like to recognise my Bach when I hear it.

No problem here: this recording is beautiful. Interestingly, for the second movement of Concero. No. 3 he substitutes BWV 1019a for the second movement (BWV 1019 is a sonata for violin and harpsichord). Bach left it open for inprovisation and most orchestras simply play the cadence in a stylised (or not) form. This is a wonderful exception and enhances my recommendation of this recording.

If I had to come up with a criticism I would say that some of the movements are a tiny bit too fast, but just a tiny bit, and I find Nos. 4 and 5 to be a little choppy. But these are very minor complaints and I will be enjoying this recording as one of my favourites.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Guilherme Furtado Filho
  • Michael Brown
From the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:12/24/1995