Amsterdam Guitar Trio

J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 2, 3, 5 & 6

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The Amsterdam Guitar Trio recorded some brilliant arrangements of four of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos in 1985, yet these virtuoso performances still sound remarkably fresh and vital. The playing of guitarists Helenus de Rijke, Johan Dorrestein, and Olga Franssen, with harpsichordist Tini Mathot as guest soloist in the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, is always transparent in line and meticulous in detail, so all of the counterpoint can clearly be heard and the ensemble is full and balanced. There are also fine distinctions made between the concertino and ripieno passages, which the three guitarists ingeniously simulate through adjustments in dynamics, timbres, and textures, and there is a genuine feeling of give and take that is essential in these classics of the concerto grosso form. Listeners should note that the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 and the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 did not lend themselves to the lean, three-guitar format, so the Amsterdam Guitar Trio omitted them; thus, this is not a complete set of the Brandenburg Concertos, so potential buyers should know this in advance. On a related point, this album should not be anyone's first recording of these Baroque masterpieces, for knowledge of Bach's originals is essential for having a well-rounded music education and necessary for appreciating the cleverness of these transcriptions. RCA's sound is close-up and vibrant, with enough resonance and space to give the musicians breathing room.

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