Review: Florilegium – Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos @ St David’s Hall

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Florilegium – Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos
St David’s Hall
Thursday 25th January 2018

Bach is “the greatest composer of them all” once declared by Wagner. Anyone who studies classical music will find Bach’s name in countless guises. His importance never seems to wain and one question remains: how did his work sound back in his own time? The call is answered by Florilegium.

Tackling all of his Brandenburg Concertos in one concert for the hardiest music lover. These six concerti vary in length, temperament and each has an array of instruments. Each has its own selling point, these being unique exercises in sophisticated harmonic structuring and melodic creativity. Starting in the opposite order, Florilegium began with the Sixth Concerto and then produced to go down to the first. An epic feat indeed.

The only reason for this is perhaps the Fifth only features strings and the ever-present harpsichord, played by Pawel Siwczak, who was the backbone of the whole evening. His solo in the Fifth was a transcendent flurry of keyboard journeys, bringing tears to my eyes. Curious when the harpsichord is heard alone do we appreciate more than when playing with other instruments.

Each of the concertos had their own highlights, the hunting horns and trumpet were welcome additions in the earlier sets. Even the recorders, an instrument now bereft from most orchestral music, plays such a vital role here. Their unbearably sweetly toned sounds make for such beautiful passages you almost feel the woodland beckoning you to a higher state of bliss.

As we came to an end, I found it all seems to meld into one. My mind drifted into another state. Each work sounded like the last but still had its own character. This well-mannered music is easily excellent ambient music, some 200 years before Satie and his Furniture Music.

Much praise for Florilegium and their voyages into the past!

Mind meltingly melodious.

Rating: ****

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