Neville Marriner

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 5 & 6; Orchestral Suite No. 1

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Even though Neville Marriner's 1985 recordings with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are split between two discs in the EMI Classics reissue, the affordable price makes the acquisition of both worthwhile. The second disc presents the Brandenburg Concertos No. 5 and No. 6, along with the Orchestral Suite No. 1, and all three works are admirably performed and recorded with excellent digital sound for the time. Marriner's interpretations are, as always, impeccably clean, deeply musical, and reasonably authentic in execution, even though the Academy plays on modern instruments, a rub for purists. While these performances lack the charming timbres of period instruments and are possibly too full-sounding for connoisseurs of a leaner Baroque sound, the fair-minded listener will not find them deficient at all in spirit or color. The Brandenburg Concertos are robust and exciting, and the soloists are all first-rate. Especially noteworthy, George Malcolm's harpsichord solo in the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 is vigorous and clearly audible against the orchestra. The Orchestral Suite No. 1 is splendid, too, and satisfying as a choice to fill the disc. Listeners who enjoy this disc should seek out the first volume to have Marriner's fine performances of the first four Brandenburg Concertos.

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