Die Freitagsakademie: Brandenburg Concertos, The Celebration [2CD]

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W&W 910 19.004-2
0.25 KGS
Hard Cover
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Product Overview

Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos exist in almost countless versions. Everybody, from Herbert von Karajan to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, works with this repertoire and some recordings are less convincing, others are wonderful. That does not stop music producer Stefan Winter to record the Six Concerts Avec plusieurs instruments in a new interpretation. Together with Die Freitagsakademie – an ensemble consisting of the best musicians of the Swiss baroque scene – he turns the piece into a special listening experience.

Stefan Winter is known for the creation of AudioFilms (cinema for closed eyes): "Wagner e Venezia", "The Sidewalks of New York" (with Uri Caine), "Orient Express", "Charmed with Verdi", "Schumann's Bar Music" (with Fumio Yasuda), "¡Tango Vivo!" and "Diaspora in Buenos Aires" (with Andrés Linetzky). Winter does not just want to document music, but is interested in creating fictitious sound stories with references to historic events and sometimes to personal experiences. The wish to realize a baroque AudioFilm exists since his youth. Winter is fascinated of the new, breathtaking European sounds, which develop in the most fantastic way after Prince Eugene of Savoy's liberation against the Ottoman empire. The occident is celebrating the new freedom and the baroque era is dawning. European architecture, art and music are changing fundamentally. Johann Sebastian Bach, born March 31st in 1685, two years after the decisive battle at Kahlenberg, is one of the protagonists of this era. From 1717 to 1723 Bach lives in Cöthen and composes outstanding works. Stefan Winter writes the fictional diary about Johann Sebastian Bach's happy years during his stay at Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen's court, his supporter and lifelong friend. The midsummer celebration, a special event on June 21st, 1721, is the core of "The Celebration, J. S. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos". This double album tells the story of an exhilarating midsummer night's festival. The night offers everything, wonderful music, thrilling fireworks and great bonfires.

The idea to make an AudioFilm about a baroque celebration with the performance of the Brandenburg Concertos is an exception to the general rule of the music industry. The first concerto is not the opening track of the album, instead the driving in a horse-drawn carriage to Cöthen. The celebration takes place open air, the invited guests gather along in the garden of the castle which becomes a ballroom, and the locals join the party. Candles, torches and again and again flashing fireworks lit the castle's facade. The thunderous strokes of the clock mark the time. The midsummer fire illuminates the night scenery. Bach's music fulfills the whole place.

Without conductor the baroque ensemble Die Freitagsakademie plays the role of the Hofkapelle (court orchestra). The individual voices act jointly together with highest concentration and precision. An instrument presents a theme, another player takes this theme, develops it further and gives it to another musician. The voices of the instruments discuss and perform with each other and create dialogues. Concerts arise in the truest sense of the word and over and over again fugue-like euphoric sound cascades dive into the space. Sometimes the music resembles one of Vivaldi's compositions or French court music, nonetheless the whole piece originates unmistakably from one hand and turns out completely rounded. Bach gives us an exciting series of concerts consisting of six parts, which he composes at different times but combines as a whole in Cöthen. Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen advises him to dedicate the work to Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt, uncle of the Prussian King. In the last fifty years the historical performance practice is changing. Harnoncourt and his ensemble Concentus Musicus Wien lead the change. He makes history. Il Giardino Armonico and others follow. Barriers get broken down, borders disappear, the doors and gates open up. This development gives the young generation of musicians the freedom to take baroque music out of the museum and to blow the dust of hundreds of years away. Die Freitagsakademie, based in Switzerland, belongs to the young generation, who translates the old scores with sovereignity into their own new music. The respect for the work, the composer and the knowledge, that music, time and society are inextricably linked, are most important. Nevertheless, in the present time the translation of the score into sounds cannot be leaded by the attempt to imitate the performance style of Bach, Vivaldi or Lully and their contemporaries, but to risk new interpretations. The Freitagsakademie plays Bach's Brandenburg Concertos lively, young and fresh. No movement feels rushed or too fast, the work has a fine tempo. Every rhythm has a natural pulse, every note has its significance, every bar has a proper breathing. The voices of the very different sounding instruments develop their characteristic colours. The scores bloom and Bach's happy years in Cöthen can be experienced. Die Freitagsakademie translates the word »concerto« (disputation) into the original meaning. The music of Die Freitagsakademie is a true joy, this special ensemble enables the listeners to experience the well-known composition in a new way.

The Freitagsakademie does not use any digital multi-track technique. The natural ambient is recorded by two omnidirectional microphones direct live-to-analog-two-track. These omnidirectional microphones generate a quite simply unaltered musical sound. The real development of the sound waves are recorded without any limitation, that is the reason why every instrument keeps its authentic sound and location. Harpsichord, baroque trumpet, alto recorder, oboe, cello and piccolo violin keep their spectrum of sounds and power. Special attention is given to the high-fidelity sound by using the analogue technology, but working without digital recording equipment has also another advantage, the manipulation with thousands of digital edits is made impossible. The moment of the recording moves into the foreground. Like an author or composer who writes with a fountain pen and not with a computer program, the ensemble Die Freitagsakademie does it without the possibility of digital exchangeability. The music is created in the exhilaration and moments of highest concentration, like an outstanding concert under best conditions at a special place created for music.

Bach's Six Concerts Avec plusieurs instruments, the so-called Brandenburg Concertos, become a feature film for closed eyes about a midsummer celebration that happened almost 300 years ago at Cöthen. It is likely that this celebration has never really taken place, but that is another story.


Musicians   Compositions
Conrad Steinmann [alto recorder]
Katharina Suske [recorder, oboe]
Verena Fischer [traverse flute]
Thomas Jahn, Priska Comploi[oboe]
Lyndon Watts [bassoon]
Markus Würsch [trumpet in F]
Olivier Darbellay, Stéphane Moser[horn]
Plamena Nikitassova [violin, violino piccolo]
Lenka Torgersen, Vitaly Shestakov[violin]
Werner Saller, Lorenz Hasler, Andreas Torgersen [viola]
Jane Achtman, Rebeka Rusò [viola da gamba]
Bernhard Maurer, Daniel Rosin, Martin Birnstiel [violoncello]
Jan Krigovsky [violone grosso]
Jonathan Rubin [lute]
Vital Julian Frey [harpsichord]
  CD I
1. Driving in the horse-drawn carriage to Cöthen
Brandenburg Concerto N° 1 in F major (BWV 1046)
2. [Allegro] 
3. Adagio 
4. Allegro 
5. Menuet–Trio I–Menuet–Poloinesse–Menuet–Trio II–Menuet 

Brandenburg Concerto N° 2 in F major (BWV 1047)
6. [Allegro] 
7. Andante 
8. Allegro assai 

Brandenburg Concerto N° 3 in G major (BWV 1048)
9. [Allegro] 
10. Adagio 
11. Allegro 

Brandenburg Concerto N° 4 in G major (BWV 1049)
1. Allegro 
2. Andante 
3. Presto 
4. Before midnight a wonderful fireworks illuminates the sky with thousands of stars and fascinating colours – everyone here is enthusiastic

Brandenburg Concerto N° 5 in D major (BWV 1050)
5. Allegro 
6. Affettuoso 
7. Allegro 
8. The fire of midsummer

Brandenburg Concerto N° 6 in B flat major (BWV 1051)
9. [Allegro] 
10. Adagio ma non tanto 
11. Allegro 

Compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach

total time: 102:00


Syker Kreiszeitung: "Und doch kommt dieses Spiel dem Gefühl eines authentischen Erlebens barocker Aufführungspraxis erstaunlich nahe. So offenbart die Freitagsakademie mit ihrer dynamischen, transparenten Interpretation eine für die höfische Musik durchaus anzunehmende Unbefangenheit: eine Intention, die von einer auf Raumwirkung ausgerichteten Aufnahmetechnik unterstützt wird."
September 3, 2012

Basler Zeitung: "So hat man die sechs Brandenburgischen noch nie gehört: als imaginäre Festmusik am Köthener Hof. […] Bach ohne abgehobenen Purismus, dafür integriert in das festliche Leben einer gehobenen Gesellschaft. Das ist zunächst einmal tontechnisch geglückt, dann aber auch musikalisch: Die in idealer Besetzung antretende Freitagsakademie spielt hoch motiviert, spritzig und vital. […] Ein Bach-Erlebnis, wie es nur die Platte gewährt – und der Film, der dazu erst noch gedreht werden müsste."
September 8, 2012

Aachener Zeitung/Aachener Nachrichten: "Bei der Aufnahme hat man bewußt auf digitale Techniken verzichtet. Das Ergebnis ist ein kompakter, überaus warmer Klang von bestechender Natürlichkeit. Verbunden mit der äußerst frischen Darstellung der Werke durch die Musiker des Schweizer Ensembles Die Freitagsakademie ergibt sich ein Klangbild, das Bach in einem ungewohnten Kontext präsentiert. Dabei musiziert man zwar auf historischen Instrumenten, verzichtet aber auf verkrampfte Aufführungspraktiken. Kein Bach für Puristen, dafür aber eine interessante Begegnung der besonderen Art."
September 8, 2012

La Liberté: "La Freitagsakademie (un ensemble fondé en Suisse, avec notamment l'excellent claveciniste Vital Julian Frey) défend magnifiquement son sublime registre de vents et un sens de la danse et du rhythme jouissif. […] Cette musique qui passe aujourd'hui pour savante était alors un vrai moment social. Non de recueillement. Ce disque nous rappelle avec bonheur."
September 8, 2012

Junge Freiheit: "Gleichermaßen biblio- wie audiophil ansprechend ist die Edition der Brandenburger Konzerte von Johann Sebastian Bach durch die Schweizer Freitagsakademie geraten. […] Die Aufnahme ist diszipliniert ohne Willkür. Statt digitaler Mehrspurtechnik wurde mit zwei Kugelmikrophonen direkt auf Magnetband aufgezeichnet."
November 16, 2012

Steirer Krone: "So souverän und frsch hört man diese Konzerte selten. Als Anspieltipp sei das 5. Konzert genannt, in dem Cembalist Vital Julian Frey den Solopart einfach atemberaubend spielt."
November 9, 2012


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