1721: Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major

THURSDAY, November 26, 2020 – 5:40 PM

(Maybe start HERE, the most famous movement, and this HERE uses horn instead of trumpet for the brass part. Then listen to the same thing HERE and compare how different they are. Do you like one better than the other? If so, which one?)

Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, age 36

By the end of the 1700s it was not longer acceptable or common to change instruments from what the composers indicated, but in the time of Bach that was not true. The composers themselves changed the instruments that were used according to what were available or convenient. So keep that in mind while listening.

Musica Amphion

This is my personal favorite of all the recordings I’ve heard. These really high F trumpets can be piercing to the point that if you are not a brass player they get downright annoying because they dominate everything. It’s all you hear, these high trumpets drilling a hole right through your skull. The tough part is getting the energy, drive, fun and sparkle without a sound that is so bright and harsh that it becomes unpleasant. This is just amazing. The trumpets and oboes are balanced, and everything has great balance.

Robert Haydon Clark, Consort Of London

I have not yet been able to find a good bio for Clark, but I’ve liked a few things from this group, and supposedly this is from 1990. The Consort of London supposedly was successful in the last 60s and early 70s, so obviously I’m missing info. What is fascinating to me about this is that instead of F trumpet, they are using horn. It’s different, and I like it, but there are not enough people commenting to get a feel about who else likes this. Note that F is F, so there is no claim of this being a “period performance”. For me this is different, and very pleasant to listen to.

Freiburger Barockorchester

Note the lower pitch. It’s in E major, not F major, but only because the pitch is lower. The same fingerings are used but it would be officially “E trumpet” because they would have to use an E crook. The sound is rougher. It barks and snarls. It has an edge to it. It has its own magic. It might sound as “perfect” unless you understand how much harder it is to play on these older instruments.

Claudio Abbado

I would judge this to be a modern performance, meaning modern instruments. There is an F trumpet, but it’s a more modern one with valves. You can’t get that smooth a sound from a valveless trumpet. I’m up in the air about preferring trumpet or horn, which surprises me, because until today I had only heard trumpet.

Maurice André, 3rd movement, live

This is a modern trumpet, in F, and this man was as good as anyone I’ve ever heard on this instrument, but it has valves and so is easier to play, and there is a modern flute instead of the older instrument. Remember, there is no right and wrong here, so no one agrees what is best for this music. But I put this here for people to see a closeup of the F trumpet with valves.

Maurice André, studio recording

This from all the way back in 1966. This time there is nothing to see, and you can hear some clicks on the record. Just remember that no one on natural horn can ever sound this polished because valves just make it easier – easier being a relative term, since this amazing trumpet player was magnificent.

Popular 298 years…

The Brandenburg Concertos are considered some of the best written compositions ever written. They remain popular to this very day.

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