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Review: Bach: The Brandenburg Concerti , The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra

The MHS Review 383 Vol. 11, NO. 5• 1987

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King Durkee, "Strictly Classical" Copley News Service (January 14, 1987)


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The Amsterdam Baroque Orcdhestra performs on period instruments. This does not mean they play on instruments that have been handed down and preservd since the baroque period; it means their instruments were manufactured to certain specifications existing during the baroque period. differed considerablhe y, which omeant the smoeunnts

There are many differences between a certain instruments today and its baroque predecessor. For instance, woodwinds had fewer keys and horns and trumpets did not have valves. Also, the bores of the instruments differed considerably, which meant the sound differed considerably, which meant the sound produced was differen. You'll hear these differences in these recdordings. You'll also hear a difference in the 18th-century type stringed instruments and in the use of the recorder. In general, this produces a ligter sound that to my ears, fits in beautifully with the harpsichord.

The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra is one of the premier ensembles of its kind playing today. The artistry of all the players, featuring so many sololists, is of the highest order. Ton Koopman conducts the group from the keyboard of the hrpsichord. He maintains appropriate balances and tempos at all times. His aim is to produce an authentic baroque sound and he has certinly done so.

If you're a love of these marvelous concerti and have heard them in concert or on one of the many fine recordings available, it will be well to prepare yourself for the difference in sound on this set. After being used to hearing the concerti played on modern instruments this rendition could sound a little thin. Listen a little longer and I'll wager you'll have no difficulty gaining a quick appreciation for the unique values of this set. Which way is better? Rather we an be grateful we have both way available to us and can appreciate both of them.

The MHS sound on this set is terrific. No matter which instruments are featured including the trumpet in Concerto no 2--you can set your volume control once and leave it that way throughout. I highly recommend this splendid set and especially recommend it to listeners who are familiar with the works only on modern instruments. Incidentally the set includes an excellent short essay on the concerti by conductor Koopman.

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