Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, age 23-32

(Old Post)

I’m doing research on all the Brandenburg Concertos, but it has not been easy because of lack of information. The best overviews I’ve found so far are HERE . and HERE. I can’t find any solid information about when each one was composed. Generally, it’s believed Bach may have begun composing some of the works that made it into the final version as early as 1708. What’s undisputed is that they were completed in 1721.

The rest of the story:

So we have a time frame of around 13 years, and any dates I give for years will be inaccurate, only a ball park estimate, and I’ll try to get more accurate in the future, if I can find better historical information.

Movements:

  • [no tempo indication] (usually performed at Allegro)
  • Andante in D minor
  • Allegro assai

Instruments:

  • Concertino: natural trumpet in F, recorder, oboe, violin
  • Ripieno: two violins, viola, violone, cello and harpsichord (as basso continuo)

You immediately know these are modern instruments. First, it’s modern pitch. Then the horns have a more polished sound, which has nothing to do with the musicians being better, thought these horn players are superb. It’s just safer with valved horns. It’s like a high wire act with nets that is not that high off the ground, and there are other safety precautions.

This is absolutely outrageous. These primitive horns have to be heard to be believed. I can’t say anything else except that you have to admire their energy. The horn players are terrible, but it shows how horribly difficult it is to play horns like this.

The pitch is lower, and some of the horn notes are a bit out of tune, and there is a bark. The horn players don’t always nail every note, but I don’t think that’s even possible with natural horns when they are recorded live. So in spite of some flaws I really like this performance because it is so fearless and in your face.

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