Next weekend I will be traveling to George Mason University to hear the Academy of Ancient Music perform Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, under the directorship of Richard Egarr. Growing up baroque, we had the English Concert and the AAM as mainstays of learning about Bach's music aurally, using original instruments in the 1980s. A couple years ago, I saw the AAM live for the first time under Egarr's direction featuring music of Handel. In preparation for this concert, my friends may wish to read a little bit about the six concerti. For those uninterested in the Wikipedia's take, here's the skinny:
Bach presented these six individual works as a collection to the so-called Margrave of Brandeburg supposedly as a résumé for employment. The concerti likely were pulled together among Bach's more unusual and fanciful concertos that he'd previously used elsewhere, for courtly entertainment. The concertos were "discovered" some 100 years later, likely never played by anyone associated with the Margrave's entourage. The six "concertos" are multi-movement works that follow concerto principles of the time, namely, the fast-slow-fast Italian model. Each concerto is scored for a different set of instruments. * One: horns, oboes, bassoon and strings. Think of a hunting trip. This one has 4 movements. * Two: think "concertino," a small group of soloists. Trumpet, violin, oboe, recorder with a small orchestra. The trumpet sits out in the slow movement. * Three: All strings. 3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, and bass. My favorite. * Four: Solo violin with two recorders or "echo flutes." The two recorders kind of act as one instrument. * Five: think concertino again, this time, transverse flute, harpsichord, and violin. Stylistically, this one seems the most modern. * Six: the dark concerto for low strings: arm violas, leg violas, and bass. This one rarely gets played fast enough for my taste. Beautiful middle movement that demands we stuff our mouths with caramels it's so rich and sweet. Among my favorite recordings are those by: * Musica Antiqua Köln * Café Zimmermann * La Stravaganza, Hamburg * Il Giardino Armonico Purchase the AAM recording via Amazon to support biberfan.org.