Since its founding in 1989, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) has breathed new life into the early music genre with a great deal of imagination, energy, much love and encouragement from co-founder, harpsichordist and artistic director Paul Dyer AO.
He emboldens his musician colleagues to succeed beyond their expectations. They play on period instruments and in the main, continue to push the edges as they exceed the boundaries of the Baroque (1600 – 1750) era in musical history, while keeping the music sounding all brand new for their appreciative audience of followers.
The ABO presents Baroque music at its best, full of the warm, golden and rich colours as if they have been taken from an artist’s palette.
One of the true artists of music during the second half of the seventeenth and first half of the early eighteenth century, composer, harpsichordist, organist and expert on organ building, the unfathomable German born genius Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), over the course of his lifetime, produced a multitude of outstanding compositions, dense with musical imagery.
Renowned for his stubborn will and high temperament, many of J.S. Bach’s works were startlingly powerful, some were achingly tender, while yet others were unique; masterpieces produced with conviction and clarity.
These wondrous compositions became the crowning glory of the music of Bach’s age by showcasing a great deal of ‘noble tone’ and musical style.
They certainly inspired other composers of his age, including the London based master George Friderich Handel.
J.S. Bach focused his attention for his Brandenburg Concerto series on a diverse range of solo instruments, including oboes, bassoon, horns, trumpet, flute and violin, just to name some. He produced the works 1711 – 1721, presenting them the well-known music-loving Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt, the youngest son of the Great Elector Frederick William (1620-1688), seeking his appreciation.
Gaining it, two years later he dedicated six of these remarkable concerti grossi works (BWV 1046–1051), in which a group of soloists plays together with a small orchestra, to the Margrave.
Clever, spirited and well-constructed, the concertos present with one ‘idyllic’ slow movement in the centre, surrounded by two faster movements, which have a ‘bottomless profundity of feeling’.
Passionate, they are also poetically rich, testifying to the outstanding high standard of instrumental music during Bach’s lifetime, during which he reached a pinnacle of virtuoso achievement.
It’s easy to become completely overwhelmed by the mastery and sheer majesty of the works, because they reveal Bach’s considerable ability to manipulate both music’s emotive and transformative powers.
For Concerto No. 1, the soloists are so numerous the work is virtually symphonic, with the highlight on one violin, three oboes, a bassoon and two horns.
Concerto No. 3, in particular features trios of violins, violas, and cellos all vying for attention.
Soloists in Concerto No. 4, includes two flutes and a violin
Concerto Number 5, showcases a flute, a violin, and a harpsichord.
Concerto No. 6, is the only piece in the series to include no violins. Instead it spotlights the lower strings, supplemented, as always, by the harpsichord.
From inception to deliverance, the whole experience of this concert will be a celebration of both love and life.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019
27th February – 4 March, various locations.
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F, BWV 1046
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G, BWV 1048
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G, BWV 1049
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D, BWV 1050
BACH Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat, BWV 1051