Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The discreet charm of the Brandenbourgeoisie

Two brand new albums of Brandenburg Concertos will be released this spring, into a very crowded marketplace. More than fifteen hundred hits on Amazon.com! But I love this music so much, I'm not complaining.


The first, to be released on April 29, 2016, is from the Neumeyer Consort under cellist Felix Koch. This performance uses original instruments, with a medium-sized Baroque orchestra of 28 players. Tempos are brisk but not eccentrically so. There are occasional muddles where the natural horns seem to get in the way of the strings, but I wonder after close listening on my headphones if this was a recording balance problem. Otherwise this is a fairly slick and emotionally distanced run-through. I didn't get the fun, swinging feel the same ensemble, then under Michael Hofstetter, brought to highlights from Handel's Messiah, back in 2013 (on Oehms).

The second, due on May 13, 2016, is from the Budapest-based Capella Savaria, also playing period-instruments, conducted by Zstot Kallo, from Hungaraton. This version has similar tempos, which I guess are middle-of-the road for today, though they're zippy compared to the olden-days. The instruments have a bit more bite, and if you've been reading my reviews you know that's how I like my Baroque music. I give this recording two thumbs up.

The winner!

In some ways it's easier to review two Brandenburgs than one. It's just like my high school teachers said: compare and contrast. So I'll go for the Hungarian Brandenburgs, a bit rustic, in the classic HIP style, over the German ones, more galante and sophisticated, maybe, but with less salsa. Can I use that term when talking about Bach? Of course I can!


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