Antony Walker

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos

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The Orchestra of the Antipodes' 2011 set of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos is certainly worth having for its exquisite period performances of these perennial favorites, but it is even more attractive for offering eight popular sinfonias from the cantatas, thereby giving listeners added value in an already excellent set. The Australia-based ensemble plays original instruments, and the performances are appropriate in textures, tempos, and ornamentation, so everything a fan of Baroque performance practice could want can be found here. The pacing is fleet and efficient, the counterpoint is transparent, and the sonorities are bright, so the combination will certainly excite even the most experienced devotees of these works. Leadership of the performances is divided among music director Antony Walker, violinist Anna McDonald, organist Neal Peres da Costa, and harpsichordist Erin Helyard, so the changing perspectives have a positive effect on the vitality and freshness of the interpretations, and the music never settles into predictable or identifiable mannerisms. The audio quality is superb, so the marvelous timbres of the group are suitably enhanced by resonant acoustics and ABC's first-class engineering. Highly recommended.

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