Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major BWV 1049, 3rd mvt., Presto; Voices of Music, 4K UHD

In this video

J. S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, performed on original instruments. Carla Moore, baroque violin solo; Hanneke van Proosdij & Andrew Levy, recorders. Performance and 4K UHD Video by Voices of Music. Find the complete work here: https://youtu.be/xrSKXgTks_w
In March of 1721, Johann Sebastian Bach carefully inked six of his best concertos into a book for the Margrave of Brandenburg, Christian Ludwig. The original title, “Six Concerts à plusieurs instruments” is now known as the “Brandenburg” Concertos in English or “Brandenburgische Konzerte” in German.
These six concertos represent the summa of chamber music in the high baroque period: for the fourth concerto (BWV 1049), Bach chose the unique and imaginative texture of baroque violin and “echo flutes” (a type of baroque recorder) for his soloists.
In his autograph manuscript of Brandenburg 4 (BWV 1049), Bach writes the title as follows:
“Concerto 4to à Violino Principale, due Fiauti d’Echo, due Violini, una Viola è Violone in Ripieno, Violoncello è Continuo.” For our video, we use the “echo flutes” for the slow movement, then break them apart for the first and third movements. The middle movement, the world premiere, is shown here: http://youtu.be/sY_KLDOVLos
The third movement, marked “presto”, again challenges the principal violin, not only with fiery roulades but also with an extended polyphonic tremolo sequence. The opening fugal point of imitation is first introduced by the viola, and then developed by all of the instruments in turn, with lively countersubjects and the use of ritornello-like accents as structural demarcations. In determining an appropriate tempo for this work, we balanced the relative tempo indications in the complete Brandenburg manuscript against the smallest metrical subdivision of the notes, as well as the acoustical environment. Since Bach uses the indication “prestissimo” elsewhere, the tempo must lie a perceptible notch below the fastest comfortable tempo, while still moving forward compared to a feeling of “alla breve.” This “slightly under fastest” tempo allows all of the details to be clearly heard with good energy, which is the essence of historical style. For his fourth concerto in the set of Brandenburgs, Bach is especially careful with the orchestration: this creates space for the recorder sound to breathe; in addition, his compositional style flows with sparkle and wit.
This concerto is part of the Voices of Music Great Works project. A Creative Commons edition of the score, based on the composer’s manuscript, will be published to accompany the complete recording, and the recording will be available worldwide on Blu-Ray and CD, and for free on MP3 and high-definition, 24 bit FLAC files.

Voices of Music
Hanneke van Proosdij & David Tayler, directors

A note on this video: The Brandenburg Concertos are ensemble pieces, and every musician has a finely-wrought musical line. Rather than assemble clips of small solos, the goal in presenting this work was to show the entire ensemble–in this way, the viewer can follow the counter-subjects as well as the main themes in the musical composition. A specially designed hyperfocal lens was used for the center camera to render the entire soundstage in focus, edge to edge and front to back, so that at resolutions of 1080p and higher, one can view each individual musician. Graduated depth of field was used on the supporting cameras to throw the image into relief when showing sections of instruments. Surround sound techniques were used to place the listener in the middle of the ensemble, so that each part can be clearly heard, as well as seen.
Text: For this recording, a new edition of the concerto was made based on Bach’s autograph manuscript, with careful attention to the original articulation marks.
Original instruments: the Brandenburg concertos have been performed on every imaginable combination of instruments. We believe that the greatest transparency is achieved when the work is performed on instruments from the time of Bach, using the techniques and styles of the time. In Bach’s time, music was performed without a conductor, and each musician had a voice in the interpretation.

The musicians and their instruments
Carla Moore, solo baroque violin by Johann Georg Thir, Vienna, 1754
Hanneke van Proosdij and Andrew Levy, recorders.
Recorder by Peter van der Poel, based on instruments by Thomas Stanesby Jr, LondonKati Kyme, baroque violin by Johann Gottlob Pfretzschner, Mittenwald, 1791
Gabrielle Wunsch, baroque violin by Lorenzo Carcassi, Florence, Italy 1765
Lisa Grodin, baroque viola by Mathias Eberl, Salzburg, Austria, 1680
William Skeen, five string baroque cello, Anonymous, Italy, c1680
Farley Pearce, violone, George Stoppani, Manchester, 1985, after Amati, 1560
Katherine Heater, double manual harpsichord by Johannes Klinkhamer, Amsterdam (1996), after Ruckers-Goujon, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 18th c.
Recorded at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Belvedere California

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