German Brass - Bach 2000

Discussion in ' User Reviews' started by Dave Payn, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Not a new recording by any means as the CD title suggests but on the recommendation of Mark 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick, I went out and sought this CD and now have it, being a fan of both brass and the works of JS Bach ('Eeeee I've got all 'is Cantatas!' ;-)).

    Firstly, let me say that the playing throughout is sublime and far better than the same group's earlier Bach tribute CD which coincided (in 1985) with the 300th anniversary of his birth, which I was deeply unimpressed with, from a playing point of view.

    The regular use of flugelhorns to provide a bit of extra tone colour (useful when taking the role of the oboes of the original where applicable) is most welcome, but this for me is definitely a CD to sample in small doses rather than listen through in one go? Why, when I've commented on the excellent playing? The fact is that despite the use of extra colour mentioned with the flugelhorns, there isn't enough tone colour contrast, and so you end up listening to 66'34'' of open brass which to my ears, even as a brass and Bach fanatic, gets a tad monotonous. I feel more could have been made of Bach's wonderful counterpoint skills and his ear for orchestral colouring (even more of an opportunity for this in the arrangements of organ works!) by usage of different mutes. If the arrangers (in the main, from the trombonist Enrique Crespo) had done this, then what end up being decent or half decent arrangements could have sounded wonderful.

    Staying on the arranging front, there are some numbers where there are a couple of wrong (presumably either mis-transcribed or wrongly realised continuo) notes and an unseemly edit (not in the recording but the actual arrangement) of the opening track, the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor (now widely accepted, ironically, as not being from the pen of JS Bach!).

    Nevertheless, despite these gripes, as I said, the actual playing is first class throughout, intonation superb, articulation clean and crisp from start to finish. (The piccolo trumpet playing in particular, is top notch). And even if some of the arrangements and arranging is less than satisfactory, a highly varied and welcome choice of Bach repertoire, not all your usual 'bog standard' Bach that appears in brass arrangements (though the Toccata and Fugue and the famous 'Air on a G String' are here!) Worthwhile to brass fans generally who may not know all the works in their original form, but perhaps approach with a degree of caution if you're a Bach nut like me! All the same, Fitzy, thank you for alerting me to this CD!
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2004

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