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Excellent Bach Brandenburgs filmed where they premiered in 1
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 05/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike Karl Richter's recent DGG DVD Brandenburg Concertos, which are a hybrid mixture of old and new, these Brandenburgs are the latest generation period-style performances. They were filmed at the Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Cothen, 23-26 March 2000. Bach served as Music Director (Kapellmeister) at the court of the Prince of Anhalt-Cothen from 1717-1723. He wrote the Brandenburgs between 1717-1721: dedicating them to the Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg. They were probably performed in this very Hall of Mirrors, giving this DVD a nice touch of historical continuity. The Palace is beautiful, the sound reverberant and well-focussed. This was an inspired choice for filming these concertos. No matter how often I listen to the Brandenburgs, there is always some new discovery to be made, some fresh insight into Bach's genius to be gained.
These are superb performances: fresh and fleet, filled with poetry yet hard-edged and crystalline in their purity of sound. The recording is so clear that even the innermost voices leap out at you if you focus your attention on them. The Freiburger Barockorchester wear their polyphony lightly, concentrating on Bach's amazing melodic gifts and his lyrical rather than his analytic side. Bach absorbed all of 18th Century Western European music, including Opera. The Freiburger Barockorchester, from all appearances a 3rd generation period instruments ensemble, are not afraid to approach some of the concertos with the arioso quality of opera while giving others a propulsiveness that is very close to "swing" in its rhythmic drive. All of the musicians are excellent. Friedemann Immer, who plays the fiendishly difficult high trumpet part in the 2nd Brandenburg, must be singled out for praise. These are wonderful performances of some of the finest instrumental music ever composed.
The picture format is NTSC filmed in true 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is crystal clear. Sound formats are PCM stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Both formats are clear and lifelike with the Dolby Digital 5.1 providing a wider and deeper soundfield with nice ambiance from the rear speakers. It makes it slightly easier to hear Bach's stunning polyphony. The Region Code is 0 worldwide. The disc format is DVD 9. There are the usual menus in the usual translated languages. Several very cute, very inventive short films are available as extras that are well worth seeing. Bonuses total 14 minutes. The concertos total 95 minutes.
Superb, fresh performances on period instruments of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos filmed in the Palace they were first performed. Strongly recommended.
Brandenburg concertos played on original instruments in Co
Hubert S. Mickel | 10/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These recordings of the Brandenburg concertos are simply superb. This is a recording of the Freiburger Barockorchester playing original instruments in the Spiegelsaal of the Palace of Cothen, a place where Johann Sebastian Bach likely arranged the performance of these same pieces while he was living there (1717-1723). Bach went to Cothen from Weimar. Prince Leopold, head of the principality of Anhalt-Cothen, had arranged to have his mother, Princess Gisela Agnes (He was still underage!), obtain the services of eight virtuoso musicians from the Prussian court orchestra when it was disbanded by Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia. Bach inherited a virtuoso group of 16 players. In this recording of the first Brandenburg concerto, there are 18 performers. The sound is probably close to what Bach heard when he conducted his orchestra. Yes, this is likely where they were performed after Bach had composed them.
Cothen appears in this DVD as a beautiful place. It was clearly a place of great importance to Johann Sebatian Bach. The only child born to Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach in Cothen, Leopold Augustus, was born in 1718 and died before his first birthday. The couple had had twins die shortly after birth in 1713. In July,1720, while Johann Sebastian Bach accompanied Prince Leopold to Carlsbad for a second trip, Maria Barbara died and was buried before he and the prince returned.
Anna Magdalena Wilcke was an outstanding singer in Cothen and had gained the prestigious title of chamber musician in mid-June 1721. Johann Sebastian Bach made acquaintance with her family in August, 1721. Anna Magdalena, then 20 years old, and Johann Sebastian were married on December 3, 1721. A little more than a year later, the family moved the forty miles to Leipzig, where Johann Sebastian took up the position of Cantor of the Thomaskirche. Bach retained his position in Cothen and returned for New Year and birthday festivities.
In Cothen, Prince Leopold had married the 19 year old Frederica Henrietta, princess of Anhalt-Bernburg, on December 11, 1721. Bach felt that the prince was less interested in music after his marriage. Bach still returned to Cothen at least once a year. The New Years festivities of 1728 was his last. Prince Leopold died on November 19, 1728.
Johann Sebastian Bach's greatest outpouring of instrumental music was in Cothen. The Brandenburg concertos stand among the best and most well-known. They are performed impeccably by the Freiburger Barockorchester.
It is delightful to see as well as hear the separation of voices in Bach's counterpoint. Although Freiburg is not exactly "in the neighborhood", they perform Bach as if they are members of the home-town musicians in Cothen. It is difficult to imagine a performance superior to this one. The recording as well as the camera work is done with great skill and understanding."
Bach Joyfully Done as He Would Have Liked
Paul S. Rottenberg | Ft. Lauderdale, FL | 08/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Euroarts scores more high marks with this release of youthfully joyful performances of Bach's six evergreen concertos for the Margrave of Brandenburg played by the young virtuosos of the Freiburger Barockorchester. The verve and panache of this ensemble remind us that these pieces are intended to entertain as well as to uplift, and the obvious camaraderie and delight of the musicians is a reminder that this music was written to be played by friends who love to play together. The fact that this is all great music of the highest order reminds us that Bach was a consummate professional who loved to make music in a friendly environment and that he just happened to be one of the greatest composers. The Freiburgers clearly know all this, and they present performances which can stand with the best currently available on CD and DVD, such as those of Pinnock on DG. Their playing is light and rhythmically incisive as well as warm and touching. The art of period instruments has entered a level of perfection of playing that musicians are today fully able to concentrate on the music itself,and not just on the playing of the instruments. The Freiburgers are clearly at the top of period ensembles today and clearly at the top of interperters of Bach's timeless scores. Each of these concertos is scored for a different group of instruments, and the visual element of a DVD makes it clear that this is obviously an important aspect of these works. Each piece displays a different sound, which creates variety in the whole group of six works. Euroarts has presented this release in both superb picture quality as well as in superior sound. This disc belongs in the collection of all music lovers, especially those who want their children to see and hear how this glorious music should be done."
Robert B. Meeker | Chicago | 11/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with all of the above- a beautifully photographed, recorded and presented Brandenburg. This is the closest you will ever get to actually being there at a concert. Excellent in every way."
Another beautiful Euroarts DVD
Zarathustra | Sacramento, CA USA | 05/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brandenburg Concertos/Freiburger BarockorchesterWhen the first concerto began I was apprehensive: all the musicians' pale faces looked so serious. No hint of even a faint smile. But gradually they loosened up, and by the sixth concerto they were dancing to the music! The period instruments are fascinating: the strings were easily recognizable, but the brass and woodwinds looked like something from a Bruegel painting. It is great to hear the concertos as they were performed in the early 18th century. The photography is fine. In the latter part of the the concert the cameraman began to take advantage of the mirrored wall. The exterior views of Coethen Palace are much too brief: I would have liked an extensive view of the grounds between concertos. Don't miss the bonus clips. The Euroarts guys really do have a sense of humor!"