A few years ago musicians from the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado came together to brainstorm our ideas and dreams for the next 10 years. One of the ideas that was especially compelling was to perform all six of the Brandenburg Concertos on one program. Doing even one of them on a concert program is always a joy for us. In the words of our concertmaster Cynthia Miller Freivogel, “Every time we start a rehearsal with a Brandenburg everyone is immediately in a good mood – even after sitting in traffic on 36 or I-25. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started a rehearsal with one of these pieces and had someone say. ‘Now, that certainly is a nice way to start the morning!’”
That is why there is a particular excitement in the air as we prepare for our Complete Brandenburgs concerts and send emails between us to discuss tempos, performance notes, and interpretation ideas.
So what makes the Brandenburgs so special to perform? For me at least, it has to do with virtuosity… in a multi-layered sense of that term. The first layer is the compositional virtuosity of Bach himself, his seemingly limitless ingenuity and his daring instrumental combinations that somehow still sound new. Then there are the many opportunities for solo virtuosity: the amazing feats of the natural horn and trumpet players in the first and second concertos, the dazzling violin passages in the fourth, and the astonishing harpsichord fantasia in the fifth are just a few examples. The final layer is a kind of shared virtuosity of the entire ensemble, along with the subtle, delightful interplay between the solo groups and the full orchestra.
And this makes me think of what I treasure the most about the opportunity to play all the Brandenburg concertos – collegiality. These concertos evoke the best in our collaborative spirit of making chamber music together. Bach gives us the opportunity to work and play together in new ways, and makes us appreciate each other more deeply.
So, in the spirit of virtuosity and collegiality, we all are very excited to bring you the Brandenburg Concertos on May 17-20!