Introduction to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

By Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Concentus Musicus Wien

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Concentus Musicus Wien

Nikolaus Harnoncourt — Conductor

Program notes

Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Bach, those two names who fit perfectly together meet again here for the complete Brandenburg Concerto.

"I feel that the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto is the most modern of all. Bach did borrow quite a bit of Vivaldi in it, but it does remain the first clavier concerto in music history. I consciously say 'clavier' concerto, since back then every keyboard instrument was called a clavier. So let's call it a harpsichord concerto. But the idea of suddenly making a solo instrument out of an instrument that had been used in the ensemble only for the thoroughbass – I find that incredibly modern. This piece is no longer a concerto in which several soloists compete with each other and fight for preeminence. Here the harpsichord very clearly dominates. Bach played this part himself and must truly have felt like an emperor of music whose stature could be questioned by no one." (Nikolaus Harnoncourt)

Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, named after their dedicatee the Margrave Christian Ludwig von Brandenburg, have been part of Nikolaus Harnoncourt's permanent repertoire ever since he founded his Concentus musicus ensemble. The ensemble has recorded them and played them on their tours throughout the world.

The impulse which led Harnoncourt to establish the Concentus musicus in 1953 was his dissatisfaction with the traditional way of interpreting early music. The uncommon and sometimes radically different style of the Concentus musicus, as well as its exclusive use of historical instruments, secured the ensemble its international reputation. Harnoncourt introduces the concerto with a moving and fascinating analysis of the piece. Interesting musical examples, which Harnoncourt inserts in a humorous and relaxed manner, make this introduction an informative and entertaining guide to this masterpiece of music. The production was filmed in the historical Baroque monastery library in Wiblingen, Germany.

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