Jordi Savall / La Capella Reial de Catalunya / Le Concert des Nations

Bach: Brandenberg Concertos

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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

As one of the major early music groups founded by virtuoso gambist and conductor Jordi Savall, Le Concert des Nations has served effectively as his orchestra since 1989 in repertoire ranging from the 17th to the 19th century, covering music of the Baroque and Classical periods on original instruments. This set of J.S. Bach's six Brandenburg Concertos has the recognizable stamp of Savall and his expert musicians on it, in the energetic pacing, stylish ornamentation, radiant instrumental colors, and the authentic character of the music, which is faithfully conveyed through lively ensemble playing. Whether it's a rugged, boisterous sound, which is frequently the tone of Bach's allegros, or a refined, courtly interpretation, as in the affecting slow movements, Savall and his ensemble make the music feel fully alive, spontaneous, and generously expressive, and at no point do the concertos feel like academic exercises or museum pieces. Savall and Le Concert originally released these performances of the Brandenburgs on the Astree label in 1991, but these hybrid SACDs on Savall's own Alia Vox label make the concertos sound better than ever, with discrete placement of parts in the multichannel recording and incredibly lifelike sound, which focuses on the finest details. Highly recommended.

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