Johann Sebastian Bach

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048

    Description by Allen Schrott

    In 1721, J.S. Bach dedicated six orchestral pieces to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg, ostensibly in response to a commission, but more likely as a sugarcoated job application. These pieces display a variety of styles, influences, and musical preoccupations and were probably not conceived of as a set. However, all of them share in Bach's great talent for absorbing new styles (among them the Italian concerto grosso) and then expanding and improving upon them. At any rate, the Margrave never thanked Bach, paid him a fee, staged a performance of the works, or offered him a position. Such was life, even for Bach.

    The Concerto No. 3 in G major may have been written while Bach was at Weimar, given that it (along with Nos. 1 and 6) is reminiscent of the Italian concerto, a genre with which Bach was fascinated at the time. The motoric rhythm, clear melodic outline, and motivic construction owe a lot to the comparable works of Vivaldi, but the clarified harmony and more interesting counterpoint are unmistakably Bach's. The work's two main sections, both in G major (one alla breve, the other in 12/8 time), are separated by a brief Adagio which may be realized as a short violin cadenza. The concerto is written for three violins, three violas, and three cellos, with bass and continuo. The relationship between the instruments is subjective to the listener; as the positioning of the parts fluctuates, it may appear that there are no soloists, that the players are all soloists, or that the violins, violas, and cellos occupy their own solo groups. The Italian concerto grosso's distinction between concertino (a small group of soloists) and ripieno (the full ensemble) becomes in Bach's hands, and especially distinctively in the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, a kaleidoscopic range of colors and shades.

    Parts/Movements

    1. [Allegro]
    2. [Adagio cadenza]
    3. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 CPO 555158
    2018 Linn CKR 430
    2018 BGS Records (British Guitar Society) BGS 130
    2018 Arcana A 452
    2018 Chandos CHAN 10999
    2018 Grand Piano GP 77778
    2017 Dynamic DYNCDS 7787
    2017 Supraphon SU 42132
    2017 Raumklang RK 3007
    2017 Decca 4832158
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16010
    2016 Berlin Classics 0300720BC
    2016 Archiv Produktion 4795384
    2016 Musiques à la Chabotterie 605014
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88875169792
    2016 Christophorus CHR 77400
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95303BR
    2016 Hungaroton HCD 3278687
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795983
    2016 Sonoma 1235408
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646019311
    2015 Erato 550562
    2015 K-Tel 136436
    2015 Alpha ALPHA 300
    2015 Tafelmusik Media TMK 1028CD
    2015 Tacet TACET 101BDA
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002301
    2015 Steinway & Sons STNS 30033
    2014 Berlin Classics 0300593BC
    2014 Channel Classics CCSSA 35914
    2014 Smekkleysa SMC 3
    2014 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186205
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002127
    2014 Profil / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 13053
    2014 L'Oiseau-Lyre / Decca 4786753
    2014 Sony Classical 88843045052
    2013 Archiv Produktion 002894791045AB55
    2013 Teldec 690116
    2013 Naïve NC 40030
    2013 Linn / Linn Records CKD 430
    2013 ABC Classics PLU 349702
    2013 Music@Menlo LIVE 201308
    2013 Gall (formerly Gallo) / Gallo CD 1395
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    2013 K-Tel 93251
    2012 Accent ACC 24271
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    2012 ABC Classics ABC 4761923
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4783384
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    2012 Naxos 8501061
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    2011 Naïve OP 30530
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