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.
The first movement begins with the trumpet, a bit high and loud in almost every recording I’ve listened to of it, with the typical Bach engine of moving parts beneath it. Each instrument featured gets its own moment with the melody. The violin and oboe have made the cut to their second Brandenburg Concerto joined by the aforementioned trumpet in F and recorder. A motley assembly if ever there was one which Papa Bach makes work. Anything paired with the trumpet gets drowned out unfortunately but all other groupings are fine work. There are so many intricate moving in the recorder and oboe that it is a shame that most of them get lost in the blaring wake of the trumpet which seems a misfit among such relatively quiet instruments despite its heroic melody and harmony.
The second movement, free of the loud trumpet, follows in the tradition of the First Brandenburg Concerto, in that it adopts a dour melody echoed by all solo instruments. The basso continuo bows out the bass line as each soloist gives its own take at the sad tune. The harmony between all is simple yet lovely as if in perfect clockwork with occasional tenutos before the minor key melody ends with a parallel major one.
The third movement bursts forth with the heroic, if loud and high-pitched trumpet pulling off a melody doubled on the lower strings before allowing other instruments in fugal counterpoint to join them. This time the balance between the trumpet and solo instruments isn’t so jarring. The oboe and recorder seem to be made to play off of one another and sometimes to move harmonically together as if in one voice. The fugue reaches a pinnacle after dallying around with a minor key variation of the theme and at last the violin and trumpet awkwardly complete the final round of the melody in harmony but at odds in range and volume not to mention timbre.