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The Bach Brandenburg Concertos - Ah! Karajan!

The DG Karajan recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos, recorded in 1964, weren't accepted as legitimate even at the time of their original release (at least by some foul reviewers!). However, I have now lived long enough for the insight of these extraordinary performances to become apparent to me, and, yes, touch my very soul! ;-)

In music history, it's Mahler (possibly Tchaikovsky, in his Sixth Symphony) who is usually given credit for the innovation of ending many of his symphonies with these long, deeply-felt, magnificent adagios, which now affect audiences so strongly all over the world. But Karajan had the insight to realize that it was not Mahler or Tchaikovsky responsible for this innovation, but rather Bach! For in the last movement of the First Brandenburg Concerto (Menuetto, Trio 1, Polacca, Trio 2), which most conductors (or conductorless ensembles) dispense in about seven minutes, Karajan found the depth in this music to keep it going for an extraordinary 12:16! Of course, that's not quite on par with the 20+ minutes of Mahler's final adagios, but it does show that Bach was the original innovator in ending some of his works with this kind of long, slow, valedictory movement!

There are so many wonderful aspects to this set: the use of flutes in the Fourth Concerto, the richness of the multiple instruments to a part in the Third, cellos instead of gambas in the Sixth, the tinkling away of a harpsichord which really knows its place in the larger scheme of things (one report I've read indicates that it was Karajan himself playing, except in the Fifth). . . I could go on and on! Really, little else remains to be said, aside from noting the individual sound (such magnificent tone quality!) of the orchestra from that time - a unique sound which was already being lost under the Abbado regime and only accelerated under the Rattle regime. Just experiencing this kind of tone quality in itself is gratifying and rewarding! (Shout out to those oboes!)

As for double dotting in the Overtures of the Second and Third Orchestral Suites (also included in this set - I don't know how they fit it all onto two CD's at these tempos!), surely you jest!

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Topic - The Bach Brandenburg Concertos - Ah! Karajan! - Chris from Lafayette 10:22:19 03/11/17 (29)


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