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Re: GG in Brandenburg 5

>>Unfortunately, having run the competitors out of town, Sony hasn't brought
>>much of the essential apocryphal material back to the catalog: the Brahms
>>with Baltimore/Adler, the Brandenburg 5, various other Bach concertos, the
>Has anybody ever heard the Brandenburg 5? Brad, have you and can you
>describe it? R. Serkin's Marlboro version -- the only one I have heard
>on piano-- is a desert island disk for me. I've wanted for years to
>hear Gould's but have never seen a copy.

"Baltimore Chamber Orchestra", cond. by Peter H Adler, 1962.  Regular piano,
not GG's "harpsipiano."  Music & Arts 298.

It's extremely slow, taking 26:30 (this piece usually averages about 19 to
21 minutes).  The middle movement is only slightly slower than average, but
the other two feel like half speed (or maybe practice tempo) in the way
they're articulated.  The notes are played very evenly in emphasis.

In the first movement GG of course brings out all kinds of things
(especially in his dominant left hand) that aren't usually heard at a normal
tempo; everybody else sounds uncomfortable until the tutti at the end of the
cadenza, when they suddenly sound energetic and "won over" to GG's approach.
Nine bars before the cadenza GG has a memory slip (jumps ahead a bar, then
catches his error), and he improvises for about five seconds before getting
back on track.  He also changes a few things within the cadenza.

In the second movement a cello doubles GG's left hand; not very common
practice anymore, and not specified by Bach.  GG's continuo realization is
pretty interesting without being obtrusive.  The performance seems
straightforward by GG standards.

The third movement is especially odd: instead of interpreting Bach's dotted
rhythmic notation as shorthand for triplets, which would be underdotting, GG
and crew go to the other side and *overdot* them.  This gives a sharply
lurching quality to the piece rather than an easy flow.  (Casals at Prades
in 1950 also did this, but his tempo is much faster.)  At GG's especially
slow tempo and in the way they articulate everything, this movement
generally feels like a fast six to the bar instead of Bach's notated 2/4.
Again there is plenty of time to hear things in the texture that are
normally not heard.

In all, it's GG at some of his most iconoclastic, and at odds both with
tradition and with fellow musicians.  He's dissecting the fifth Brandenburg,
like his performance of the "Appassionata" sonata.  Such an approach is
"essential" GG: definitely worth hearing because it's interesting and
different.  The dynamic between established orchestra and visiting star
pianist trying to find a middle ground in disagreement...well, that's not so
often heard either.  (Except in GG with Bernstein in Brahms 1....)

>Not to offend the purists (not that I'd guess there are many HIPsters
>on this list) but after you've heard the harpichord cadenza on a
>piano, you can never go back.

I too like the Serkin/Casals/Marlboro performance you mentioned, but I'd
hardly say I can "never go back."  The nifty thing about that Serkin
recording, for me, is that he's already half a minute into the cadenza
before you realize that nobody else is playing anymore...it's not really a
cadenza anyway, in the later sense.  The music just continues without any
fuss being made that the keyboard player is flying solo.  Almost everybody
else (whether on piano or harpsichord) makes a bigger deal of it.  The
Serkin approach is refreshing.  (William Malloch had an article in _Opus_
magazine in about 1985, comparing this performance with "Light My Fire" by
The Doors...long keyboard solo played matter-of-fact-ly in tempo.)

Ever hear the Stokowski recording with Fernando Valenti at the harpsichord?
Big orchestra.  As soon as the "cadenza" starts, the engineers turn the gain
way up.  Jarring.

Ever hear the recent Il Giardino Armonico recording of the Brandenburgs?
After you've heard such a responsive and lively ensemble you can never go
back.  :)  It has nothing to do with purism.  It has everything to do with
committed music-making in which everything makes sense and has a clear

By the way, Anne, the "Three Countertenors" has already been done.  Harmonia
Mundi France #901552, 1995.  Pascal Bertin, Andreas Scholl, and Dominique
Visse.  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000007AC

Bradley Lehman, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
Dayton VA