J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Brandenburg Concertos

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Accompaniment/Orchestra:Concentus Musicus Wien
Soloists:Alice Harnoncourt, Jurg Schaeftlein, Friedman Immer, Elizabth Harnoncourt, Marie Wolf, Herbert Tachezi, Leopold Stastny
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
Record Label:London
Catalog Number:440 071 204-3
Year Released/Recorded:1983
Total Playing Time:103.04
Comments:Mike Flemmer said:

HARNONCOURT PRESENTS 'NATURAL' HIP (Historically Informed Performance)
What did the instruments of Bach's time REALLY sound like in a live concert? Now, you can hear and SEE for yourself authentic period instruments in action, in what Harnoncourt presents as a 'natural' concert. Authentic period instruments in a live concert (no audience). These instruments are primative by today's standards. Horns with NO valves, trumpets with thumb holes, baroque oboes, recorders, etc. In fact, did you know the woodwinds are so primitave they can not play in tune by today's standards? They simply can not play with precision pitch control. No valve controls, just thumb holes- very unsophisticated instruments. The horns are the most 'out-of-tune' and rarely hit high notes with accuracy. The oboes are also difficult to control and do not have the tone quality of today's oboes. This was a shock to my ears the first time I watched this video. We are accustomed to performances without pitch 'problems'. Other period recordings sound nothing like this and I assume they are 'fixed' up in the studio to correct 'pitch problems'. What Harnoncourt is brave enough to present here is a live, 'natural' period concert without audio 'fix' ups. The interpretations of each Concerto is very good. Some of the best tempi and rythmns I've ever heard from any group. However, one exception is the first movement of Concerto No 6, which has bizarre tempo changes.

With no doubling of parts, there is a lot of intimacy achieved that is never possible with large ensembles. It's a lot of fun to watch these superb musicians play on period instruments, especially the baroque flute, recorders, harpsichord, and natural trumpet. Quite an 'eye opening' experience to see and hear how it all sounded in Bach's time.

Four musicians here are particularly outstanding in this video:
-Alice Harnoncourt on solo violin
-Leopold Stastny on baroque flute (wonderful in Concerto No5!)
-Friedman Immer on natural trumpet (remarkable in Concerto No 2!)
-Herbert Tachezi on harpsichord (flawless!)

Herbert Tachezi is excellent in Concerto No5! The camera gets close and looks 'over his shoulder' and you watch him play the whole cadenza up close! The harpsichord is a double manual and the top keys 'play' as the lower keys are played- so you can watch two things at once- the player on the lower keyboard and the top keys 'playing' too! Highly recommended!

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Mike Flemmer
Date First Submitted:01/24/1999