Bach – Brandenburg Concertos No 5 was held at the Hall of Mirrors at the Coethen Castle. According to Goltz (2006) it was held to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Bach’s death. The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra was stationed at the right hand corner of the mirror hall where the stage was illuminated by hanging tier lights. The orchestra was all dressed in black with the men having black tuxedoes and the ladies Black dresses or pants. The Bach – Brandenburg Concertos was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach during the baroque era. Bach used to serve prince Leopold and composed the music for him.
The ensemble is small and consists of ten people. The genre of the music performed was a symphony. It had three movements: Allegro, Affetuoso, and then Allegro again. For this concerto number five the instruments used were violins, Harpsichord, Violas and the flute. In the fast movement, the music kicks off in mezzo forte and allegro. It is fast paced and the whole ensemble except for the flute is playing. Then the music goes to a diminuendo to give way to the flute which is accompanied by a violin. It is then joined again by the whole ensemble in a crescendo.
Midway it goes to an allegro moderato which there after kept on interchanging with allegro. Towards the end it goes to a piano when the harpsichord takes the centre stages. It finishes off with a crescendo of the violin and the flute. The second movement is an adagio with the music starting at a mezzo piano and is a ritornando. The flute, a violin and the harpsichord take the centre stage. At this stage the harpsichord is audible as there are less instruments playing. It then picks up the volume getting to a mezzo forte and then softening its pitch at intervals. The texture is homophonic and smooth.
Just as it is named it is an affettuoso. The third movement starts in an allegro then goes to staccato as a high pitched violin leads. The viola producing thick sound/ basses join in, in a staccato. The music rises in a high pitched crescendo then thereafter goes to a piano. This movement is mainly a ritornello- it keeps on repeating a part before it changes the melody. It ends in a mezzo forte. The Vivaldi: Four seasons was performed by Nigel Kennedy and the English chamber Orchestra. The performance was categorized into four seasons: the spring, autumn, summer and winter.
It was composed by Antonio Vilvadi born in 1678 (Baroque Composers -n. d). The Vilvadi four seasons is also referred to as Le Quattro Stagioni. Each of the seasons had three movements in it. All the performances were appreciated by the audience who applauded at the end of each movement. The main focus of the Vilvadi four seasons is the violin with which Kennedy displays his virtuosic musical ability. Violin Concerto in E major, Op. 8 Nr. 1 “spring” the movements are arranged in an alternating format. The first and the third are in ritornello form.
The second movement is slow paced and provides a contrast to the two others. Spring 1 is an allegro paced music. The violin plays a solo that dominates this movement. It joined by basses which take the music to a forte then it goes back to playing in a piano. The most notable is the parts where the violin plays in very high pitched allegro getting a back up from thundering basses to bring out a contrast. It ends suddenly in a ritornando. Spring two is an adagio which starts with a violin which remains the focal point for this movement. It gets an accompaniment from a low pitched string.
It ends with piano undertones of a bass. Spring 3 is an allegro which starts with a mezzo forte having a mix of violins. This gives way to a legato solo violin which plays a high pitch with a background of low toned strings. It comes to a piano end after a session of forte music from the whole ensemble. The Violin Concerto in F major, Op. 8 Nr. 3 “fall”/ autumn starts in an allegro which has staccatos and is high pitched. It gets to an alternate of the staccato rhythm between the high and low pitch strings. The movement remains at an allegro and only gets to a ritardando halfway through.
This lasts for three to four seconds and then goes back to mezzo forte then forte to end with a mezzo piano violin. Autumn II starts with a slow introduction by a legato solo violin which is joined by some more piano violins. The music gets to a diminuendo and progresses to die down; a second’s pause then the orchestra brings back the music in an allegro thunder. A harpsichord then comes in softly played together with a solo violin in adagio. This two take the movement to its end. Autumn 3 starts with a thunder from the basses. High pitched violins join in the music at a mezzo forte which then rises to a fortissimo.
A highlight for me was the part where the solo violin was accompanied by claps from a percussion instrument. Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8 Nr. 2 “summer”1 has a staccato introduction which is in adagio. It then picks up to an allegro which grows in crescendo to a mezzo forte. Again the music dies down to a staccato piano violin, then to a fortissimo that thunders suddenly. This movement style is an alteration between a solo violin and forte sessions which the whole ensemble plays. Summer II has a slow introduction that is unexpectedly interrupted by a thunder from the basses.
The basses also come to an abrupt end just as they had come in and the solo violin takes over again. This movement is the shortest and ends with a thunder. Summer III starts forte and picks up its pace. This movement has a good display of staccato playing by the violin. Violin Concerto in F minor, Op. 8 Nr. 4 “winter” 1 starts with a mezzo allegro that is a staccato. The soft music increases in tempo. The melody is dynamic and moves from piano to mezzo piano then to mezzo forte and eventually forte. It ends in a crescendo. Winter II starts with a solo violin which is mezzo forte and later gets ritardando and dies off.
The whole orchestra rejoins and progresses to a diminuendo leaving a legato violin solo. The finish is a diminuendo. Winter 3 starts with a high pitched violin solo which rises in volume as the ensemble joins in. Midway it slows down to almost a stop. Then picks up a crescendo again which takes this movement to the end. I enjoyed the concerts which had a baroque style of music. The thing that amazed me was the Bach piece did not have a conductor. This according to Goltz (2006) was an 18th century practice. This was a very positive experience that made me appreciate the sophistication that had been developed by the composers.