Brandenburg Concerto #2 in F major BWV 1047

reviewed by Tom-Tom

The second Brandenburg Concerto is perhaps the most famous of the six with its relatively simpler melody and bright trumpet part. The third movement was chosen to be one of the representative pieces placed in a probe to be sent into the far reaches of space to depict the great achievements of humanity. I would have chosen another one but we can’t all get what we want.

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Brandenburg Concerto #1 in F major BWV 1046

Reviewed by Tom-Tom

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The piece begins and your ears struggle to hear what instruments are being played not to mention actually try to divine who has the melody. That’s precisely the thing with the best of Bach’s music. Everyone has the melody and they are all playing now. Oh, to see the inside of the mind behind the music. Speaking of the music, the basso continuo is raking out the mother chords as the oboe come in a beat after and then the strings. Almost everything you hear will be divided, passed around the ensemble which consists of three oboes, natural horns (corni di caccia), a bassoon, and strings with violino piccolo atop them with basso continuo below. Bach’s Double Concerto for two violins is called so because either violin could be taken out and still be a decent sounding piece. Here in the first movement of the first Brandenburg Concerti, there’s so much movement and use that it is difficult to imagine the melody is actually quite simple. It is the use of the fugue which, to Bach was as natural as smoking, drinking coffee, and having yet another child born.

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Brandenburg Concerto #3 in G major BWV1048

reviewed by Tom-Tom

The third Brandenburg is an all-string affair but don’t be quick to sell it short. It is scored for three violin parts, three viola parts, three cello parts, and basso continuo. Having a legion of strings play the thickly orchestrated work isn’t a barter, it’s great.

The first movement begins robustly introducing the wavering theme with repeating rhythmic pickups leading to moving themes. Bach’s use of orchestration across this vast array of strings is truly majestic but also rustic. In typical fashion the themes are compressed into thick, juicy counterpoint and fugues sequenced by tense solos which resolve and agitate the melody back and forth across mostly the mid to upper strings. The celli don’t have overly much to do and the piece ends with a re-chorus of the original melody.

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