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Nouveaux Brandebourgeois

Diapason
December 1, 2012

★★★★★

 « Nouveaux Brandebourgeois? » !? Pas de panique, Diapason ne vous a pas caché la découverte sensationnelle d'un manuscrit moisissant dans les combles d'un château moldave. L'éditeur précise bien en couverture: « reconstruction ». On comprend mieux, quoique le terme pose problème. Bruce Haynes ne s'est pas vraiment attaché à « reconstruire » des concertos perdus, mais nuance de taille, à imaginer des concertos qui auraient pu exister - des « spéculations sonores », suivant ses propres termes.

La méthode est bien connue; puisqu'on trouve dans les cantates une douzaine de mouvements issus des Brandebourgeois ou de concertos arrangés, on peut y chercher aussi la trace de pièces instrumentales disparues. Certains musicologues ont tenté l'expérience en s'armant de l'attirail analytique comme Peter Williams qui devinait dans la structure d'une sonate pour viole et clavecin le reflet d'un Septième Brandebourgeois. Haynes aborde l'exercice avec plus de liberté mais en familier de ces cantates qu'il a fréquentées durant quatre décennies - il tenait le hautbois auprès de Leonhardt dans l'intégrale héroïque pour Das alte Werk.

Il retaille aussi bien les inévitables sinfonias de la BWV 35 (brillantes et déjà « reconstruites » mille fois) que des airs dont les dacapo semblent tourner le dos aux concertos. On ne boudera pas pour autant le Duetto pimpant de la BWV 78, qui ne perd rien au change quand on l'anime avec tant de rubatos, d'accents fiers, de caprices légers que ces deux flûtes. Surtout, l'ensemble vaut par sa variété, par cette volonté d'explorer les combinaisons instrumentales qui guidait Bach dans les Brandebourgeois. Haynes a ouvertement calqué ce « deuxième cahier » chamarré sur le premier: concerto opulent à plusieurs choeurs instrumentaux (« VII »), pour des solistes disparates (flûte à bec, traverso et hautbois da caccia, VIII). pour cordes seules ( IX, en deux mouvements reliés par une cadence), pour quatre flûtes (X, avec un finale fugué), pour haut bois et clavecin obligé (XI, qui répartir assez curieusement les tâches dans les sinfonias BWV 35), pour quatre instruments graves (violes et violoncelles, XII).

Les arrangements les plus improbables peuvent être les plus évidents, comme ce Kyrie d'une messe brève qui tombe parfaitement dans les plis de quatre flûtes à bec opposées aux cordes, ou ce dialogue si lyrique des basses (XII).

L'équipe canadienne y met beaucoup d'élan et de caractères, de spontanéité, de générosité: tous ont retenu la leçon de Haynes, grand penseur de l'interprétation baroque, qui préférait l'énergie contrastée de l'éloquence aux prisons esthétisantes (lire absolument The End of Early Music). Haynes disparaissait en mai 2011. Il n'aura pas vu son travail accompli - son épouse Susie Napper mettait une dernière main aux arrangements - mais son message est bien passé: transcrire, comme Bach et tous ses contemporains le faisaient sans le moindre complexe, est aujourd'hui une façon primordiale d'interroger des musiques éloignées par le temps et prêtes à se figer sous le voile des habitudes.

Gaëtan Naulleau - Diapason

Gramophone
October 1, 2012

Another six Brandenburgs conjured by the late Haynes. Depressing though it is to imagine Bach’s lost instrumental music – probably significant chamber works and concertos form both Weimar and Cöthen – there are still rich concerto pickings to be reconstituted from the extant cantata œuvre. This is where Bruce Haynes went to create a ‘what if?’ scenario of six more Brandenburg Concertos, making up the usual standard dozen established by the Italians at the turn of the 18th century.

Haynes took the equivalent numbers of the real Bach Brandenburgs to assemble the instrumental textures for his own musings. So Brandenburg No 9 is string only, as it is in the same place in the original (No 3), although all the scorings are freshly conceived here so that the general palate only alludes to Bach’s own landscapes. This is fortunate, since attempting a project using Bach’s ambitious template and scale would require a superhuman effort in transformation and pastiche.

What Bande Montréal Baroque under Eric Milnes has produced is a set of delightful ‘ fantasies’ on the Brandenburgs, gleaned with varying success from 12 cantatas, a shot Mass and a harpsichord concerto. But it is not a ‘reconstruction’, as billed; however present the principles of concerto writing, they come from contexts (often cantatas chorus models) so vastly different from the highly wrought interplay which constitutes a genuine Bach instrumental concerto that ends up admiring, even more, Bach’s endless capacity of inventing sophisticated sub-genres.

Even so, let’s not be too picky. Bach turned instrumental works into cantatas (eg BWV110 from the Fourth Suite), so the reverse can offer some gems. If the rhetorical inspiration of ‘ O ewiges Feuer’ (Concerto No 7) and the vocal material are not satisfactorily transferred to the new ‘grosso’ context, ‘Concerto No 10’ is cleverly redolent of the Fourth and the last one is a charming homage to the rich domesticity of the Sixth.

Forget the fact that da capo arias (especially the famous duet from BWV78) aren’t really concertos and that BWV35 cannot offer dialogue for two concertante instruments to operate properly: the music, per se’ often enchants. ‘Concerto No 8’ is wonderfully joyous and spicy – anf how craftily Haynes has taken the Epiphany work BWV65 for the finale with some real Easter spice. The playing is generous, spirited and often excellent. The penultimate work parades that fashionable ‘push-me-pull-you’ phrasing ‘tick’, advertently stopping the music in its tracks for doubtless a good non-musical reason.

Jonathan Freeman Attwood

Gramophone October 2012

BBC Music Magazine
September 29, 2012

★★★★

Adroitly culled from assorted cantatas movements, Bruce Haynes’s reconstructed ‘Brandeburgs’ might not always hang together as concertos, but the top-drawer Bach is played with vitality. (PR)

 BBC Music Magazine
 

weta.org
September 24, 2012

Sometimes modern musicians want Baroque novelties, and address that desire with repurposed music. Sometimes it’s called “reconstructed,” sometimes “reimagined,” but the concept is, in itself, very consistent with musical sensibilities of the Baroque era. Among many 21st century examples is Une symphonie imaginaire, in which Marc Minkowski created an imaginary symphony built from instrumental sections of operas by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Bach himself often used previously-composed music, his own and that of others, in his works.

This new release on the ATMA Classiques label is a performance by Montréal Baroque of a project by the late American oboist and musicologist Bruce Haynes. In his words, “…these concertos are not meant as serious reconstructions, merely as speculative trials to demonstrate the possibilities for instrumental treatment of Bach’s rich fund of musical inventions contained in the cantatas and other vocal works.” When Haynes conceived these sequels, he chose six cantatas and transcribed vocal lines for the same instrument groups Bach used in the original Brandenburg Concertos. In May 2011, having orchestrated three of them, Haynes died unexpectedly during a surgical procedure. His widow, cellist Susie Napper, finished the project, and was the artistic director for this recording, produced during the 2011 Montréal Baroque Festival.

Join us this week for the “new Brandenburgs,” synthetic Bach concertos, or, as Bruce Haynes noted, “An experiment: Zero voices per part!”

Early Music America
August 6, 2012

I have absolutely no problem with this idea; there just is too little purely instrumental music by J. S. Bach, and it seems logical, given that we know he plundered his chamber music for material when writing his cantatas, that someone should attempt to reverse the process. A little over a year after Bruce Haynes’s death, this recording is a fine tribute to his memory. I won’t claim to find his second set of Brandenburgs complete convincing – for one thing, I doubt very much that Bach would have scored a concerto for two recorders and two voice flutes, or another for two gambas and two cellos – the resulting lack of timbral clarity is something I fear he would have found unacceptable; far better, in my opinion, to mix instruments from different families. There are other small points with which I could pick fault, but I’d really rather not – one just has to accept Bruce’s choices for what they are and sit back and enjoy the very entertaining results. I was not familiar with this ensemble, but I hope to hear more from them. It will not be easy for them to find instrumental repertoire with such a wide tonal palatte. BC

Early Music America August 2012

The Huffington Post
July 3, 2012

In this album, titled "New Brandenburgs", musical alchemist Bruce Haynes (1942-2011) undertook to recall six additional Brandeburg Concertos Bach might have written, though we have lost their traces. Numbers 10 and 12 are outright keepers; at least a half dozen tracks from the others could easily join the Bachian hit parade. Obviously, these are also authoritative original instrument performances in the fullest sense of the word, as if the performers were in on the very act of creation (which they were). Most moving, perhaps, is the eloquence with which the oboe of Matthew Jennejohn speaks of those intimate places in Bach's own heart where his greatest love and suffering lay. The outstanding success of this experiment must make us lament that more than 100 such "Brandenburg concertos", scholars speculate, were lost whern Bach's papers were dispersed after his death. Magnificient demonstration quality sound.

Laurence Vittes - The Huffington Post

Le Journal de Montréal
June 16, 2012

★★★★
À la veille d'une autre édition toute colorée du Montréal Baroque, le claveciniste Eric Milnes et sa joyeuse bande en profitent pour revoir les Concertos brandebourgeois de Bach. Comme toujours, le travail est aussi impressionnant que les notes du livret qui guident l'amateur dans les arcanes de la création, avec cette volonté d'aller toujours un peu plus loin. Comme le dit si bien le musicologue Bruce Haynes:
« Nos six nouveaux concertos ne sont pas des reconstructions qui se prennent au sérieux, ls se présentent plutôt comme des spéculations sonores ».
Le classique revisité.
Christophe Rodriguez - Le Journal de Montréal

InfoDad.com
June 7, 2012

 ★★★★

A supremely clever and intriguing collaboration between Bach and the late Bruce Haynes, the six new “Brandenburg Concertos” played by Band Montréal Baroque under Eric Milnes are examples of Baroque scholarship at its best – and most lighthearted. What Haynes did was to choose elements of various Bach works, mostly cantatas, and arrange them in instrumental combinations corresponding to those in the Brandenburg Concertos, so that “No. 7” uses the same instruments as No. 1, “No. 8” uses those of No. 2, and so on. The rearrangement and reuse of material in Bach’s time was constant: Bach’s own use of Vivaldi’s music is well-known, and Bach constantly found new uses for his own works as well. And the line between vocal and instrumental music was by no means as clear in the Baroque as it later became. So Haynes’ use of mainly vocal music for these new “Brandenburgs” has, as it were, Bach’s own imprimatur. More importantly, these pieces really work – the instrumentation is well handled, the vocal parts sound fine on instruments (most frequently oboe), and the performance abets the whole project by using original instruments and paying close attention to period style. The one thing a listener will need to do here is get past the “Brandenburg” title, which is both accurate (for the instrumentations) and not to be taken at all seriously. Anyone not expecting to hear the real Brandenburg Concertos is in for a great treat with these non-Brandenburg “Brandenburgs,” which are very much in Bach’s spirit and are, indeed, accorded spirited – and thoroughly winning – performances.

Mark Estren - Infodad.com

Musical Toronto
June 5, 2012

 University of Montreal Early Music specialist Bruce Haynes, who died a year ago, took the catholic view when he scoured 13 of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas, the Mass in G minor and Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in D minor for material he could adapt into a set of six concertos in the style of the six original Brandenburgs.
But it’s best to not think of the Brandenburgs at all while listening to this recording made by Eric Milnes and the period-instrument Bande Montréal Baroque, because it only serves to get in the way of what is an excellent display of the flexibility and adaptability of Bach’s music, of Haynes’ careful scholarship and craft, and of the elegance with which these capable Montrealers — including Haynes’ widow, gamba master Susie Napper — turned it into glorious sound only a couple of weeks after his death.

I also would suggest it best to think of these pieces as concerti grossi (meaning there is more than one solo instrument featured in each piece) or concertante (where the metaphorical spotlight shifts between individuals and groupings and the whole orchestra).

Five of the six “new” concertos follow a striaightforward fast-slow-fast, three-movement structure in related keys.

If you’re familiar with Bach’s cantatas, you can play a game with yourself and your Baroque-geek friends, guessing which piece each movement of each “New Brandenburg” has been swiped from. The music is very different when it’s played, not sung, mainly because there is a flexible articulation to the human voice that even the most dexterous fingers and virtuosic lips can’t duplicate, but nowhere on this album do I get the impression that I’m being short-changed.

The real pleasure comes from simply sitting back and enjoying the music.

John Terauds - Musical Toronto

La Scena Musicale
June 1, 2012

★★★★

Ces « nouveaux » concertos sont en fait des adaptations de pièces instrumentales et vocales de Bach reconstruites par le regretté hauboïste Bruce Haynes. Ces concertos « découverts sur le Plateau Mont-Royal » (citation humoristique de la gambiste Susie Napper lors de leur création en 2011), sont loin d'être une simple plaisanterie! Le travail méticuleux des transpositions et le choix judicieux des différentes pièces sont en continuité avec l'oeuvre célèbre du Cantor. Dans ces arrangements, Haynes a respecté le schéma instrumental des six concertos originaux. Il a poussé l'audace en adaptant les parties vocales des choeurs et les solos de certaines cantates en un festin concertant particulièrement bien rendu par les vents. Les arias retrouvent ainsi une nouvelle vie. On peut citer en exemple le fameux duo de la cantate bwv 78 transformé en un joyeux dialogue pour flûtes à bec. Reconnues pour leur pouvoir chantant, les violes de gambe produisent aussi un bel effet dans le dernier concerto sur un air tiré de la cantate bwv 80. La partie d'alto de la cantate bwv 74 est complètement transformée en plusieurs voix instrumentales et on s'étonne que tout cela fonctionne à merveille! Une très agréable réussite,

René F. Auclair - La Scena Musicale

Le Devoir
June 1, 2012

 Voici une démarche qu’il est difficile d’intituler, mais facile à appuyer. Ces concertos ne sont pas « brandebourgeois », ils ne sont pas vraiment « reconstitués », mais construits à la manière des Brandebourgeois.

L’idée est de Bruce Haynes, hautboïste et musicologue, décédé en 2011 quelques semaines avant la première audition. Le projet part du principe que Bach puisa certains mouvements de cantates dans des concertos et que, maints concertos étant perdus, on peut en recréer en allant chercher dans le corpus des cantates les mouvements qui semblent les plus concertants. Bruce Haynes calque les effectifs orchestraux sur ceux des vrais brandebourgeois : le « 7e », cousin du 1er, éclate au son de la trompette, du hautbois et du cor ; le 8e met en avant une flûte à bec, une flûte traversière, un hautbois d’amour et un violon ; le 9e, comme le 3e, est composé pour cordes, etc. Tout cela est titillant et très majoritairement bien réalisé.

Christophe Huss - Le Devoir

All Music Guide
May 31, 2012

This album does not, needless to say, offer a new set of undiscovered Bach Brandenburg Concertos. What's less clear is that it also isn't the "reconstruction" promised in the album graphics. There are reasons to believe that a good deal of Bach's instrumental music, especially from the 1720s, has been lost; that Bach may have repurposed vocal music into instrumental music; and that Georg Philipp Telemann is known to have done so in a way similar to the "Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 7-12" on this release, replacing the vocal lines of cantata movements with solo instruments in Brandenburg-style instrumentation. Arranger Bruce Haynes writes that these pieces are "more in the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the famous recordings by the Swingle Singers or of Wendy Carlos ... not meant as serious reconstructions, merely as speculative trials ...." The Bande Montréal Baroque under Eric Milnes plays well enough that you're ready to listen to the genuine article from them.

James Manheim - All Music Guide

Ariama.com
May 28, 2012

 The late oboist Bruce Haynes suggests in this album’s liner notes that the extant instrumental concertos we have by Bach are only a fraction of a much larger cache of works. Haynes has given us six “new” concertos by taking movements from various Bach cantatas and arranging them in the style of the Brandenburg Concertos. Eric Milnes leads Bande Montréal Baroque in this irresistibly colorful set of Concertos “Brandebourgeois.”

The negative view we now have of recycling and arranging works wasn’t held in Bach’s day, so Haynes’s arrangements really hearken back to the old way of doing things. Haynes obviously had a great ear (he was a fine performer too, check out his Couperin album) and if you didn’t know better, you’d think these six concertos were actually crafted by Bach. What struck me most was the pure beauty of each concerto’s sound. Of course some of this is easily communicated when the performers are as good as Bande Montréal Baroque.

The Concerto No. 7 with its solo trumpet, oboe, violin, horn, bassoon, timpani, strings and continuo is a bracing, festive work. Alexis Basques is a marvelously agile trumpeter and oboist Matthew Jennejohn’s eloquent solo in the slow movement (based on a movement from Cantata BWV 150) is, in its way, a touching homage to Haynes. The scoring of Concerto No. 10 for alto recorders, flûtes à bec, bassoon, strings and continuo is peppy and the interplay of winds very pleasing. The Concerto’s middle movement (based on the delightful “Wir eilen mit schwachen” duet in Cantata BWV 78) features some jaunty interplay between all the soloists. As you might guess, there’s also great fun in trying to identify the various cantatas Haynes used in creating the concertos.

Since this is an ATMA Classique recording, you know the sound is going to be audiophile quality. The woody richness of the gambas and cellos in Concerto No. 12 (mirroring the sound of Bach’s “original” Brandenburg Concerto No. 6) is simply stunning. This is really marvelous music making and a sure-fire treat for fans of Baroque instrumental music.

Craig Zeichner - Ariama.com

WQXR
May 27, 2012

Album of the Week

Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos – those perennial Baroque crowd-pleasers beloved by both modern chamber ensembles and early-music groups – are getting a sequel.

In 2010, the late oboist and musicologist Bruce Haynes conceived the idea that Bach might have reused some of his cantatas in constructing the Brandenburg Concertos. After all, Bach was a chronic recycler, both of his own work and that of other composers, and while on deadline he would often rework an existing tune for a new occasion.

Haynes chose six cantatas as a basis for a set of “new” Brandenburgs and began transcribing the vocal lines for the instrumental forces used in the original Brandenburgs. He had orchestrated three of them before his untimely death in May 2011, during what was supposed to be low-risk heart surgery. He was 69. His widow, cellist Susie Napper, finished the set and oversaw this recording.

The Bande Montréal Baroque presents all six concertos, each with a different configuration. The concertos are numbered seven to 12 and are structurally modeled after the six originals. Horn, trumpet, oboe and recorders all make appearances. The first features prominent solo trumpet lines. The bouncy third, for strings, omits the middle movement just as the original does.

The most interesting of the batch may be Concerto No. 11 for oboe, harpsichord, strings and bass continuo, which features lively virtuosic turns for oboist Matthew Jennejohn and harpsichordist Erin Helyard.

The performances, conducted by Eric Milnes, are appropriately zesty and without a whiff of mustiness, as they should be.

WQXR

Buffalo News
May 20, 2012

★★★½

Bach, Nouveau “Brandebourgeois” Reconstitution by Bruce Haynes performed by Bande Montreal Baroque under Eric Milnes (Atma). Something a little new and wildly ingenious here. Since (A) Bach had absolutely nothing whatsoever against transcribing his own and others’ music for other musical forces and (B), a large quantity of the music Bach left at his death was lost to history, why not believe that one of the eternal classical masterpieces the world now knows as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos was just part of a huge stock of lost Bach concertos that may have numbered as many as 100? And further, why not believe they can be simulated by taking movements from Bach’s Cantatas, transcribing vocal lines for the instrumental forces familiar from the Brandenburgs and present the whole merrily synthetic thing as “Nouveau Brandebourgeois” concertos? The Brandenburgs they’re not, but you’ll be joyfully surprised by how plausible these synthetic Bach pieces are. Good fun, as all such inventiveness should be.

Buffalo News

Fanfare
May 20, 2012

  Purists may well quake at this concept, a “reconstruction” of the Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 7–12. The idea is that the Brandenburg Concertos we all know and love are but part of a larger corpus of work written for the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig that is now lost. Bruce Haynes (who unfortunately died last year: 1942–2011) writes in the booklet that “these concertos are not meant as serious reconstructions, merely as speculative trials to demonstrate the possibilities for instrumental treatment of Bach’s rich fund of musical inventions contained in the cantatas and other vocal works.” The instrumentation of these six equates with the earlier six (so the scoring for No. 7 is the same as that for No. 1, No. 8 as No. 2, and so on).

The “Seventh” Concerto has a bubbly, active first movement (from BWV 34), festive trumpets recalling the first of the Christmas Oratorio cantatas. The performance is very spirited indeed, very pointed phrasing and superb staccatos. The scoring is for trumpet, oboe, violin, horn, bassoon, timpani, strings, and continuo. The “Eighth” Concerto is perhaps more genteel (C Major for recorder, traverse, oboe da caccia, bassoon, violin, strings, and continuo), with the recorder delightful in the first movement (from BWV 74). The finale (BWV 65) has a real spring in its step.


Scalic articulation is a thing of wonder in “No. 9”’s first movement (from BWV 11); there are only two movements in this one, of course, and as it turns out the second is less than two minutes long (and that includes an Adagio introduction). The initial Andante (BWV 235) of the woodwind-dominated “No. 10” is the epitome of calm, in effect a chamber-music conversation between the participants. Two faster movements introduce speed but, in the case of the second movement, there is no real interruption to the prevailing mood; that is left to the bustling, properly Presto finale (BWV 235).


There is a certain Handelian tinge to the first movement of “No. 11” (from BWV 35), and to the stately second (BWV 106). The exchange between solo violin and oboe in the latter movement, plus the occasional, very effective, harpsichord solo (superbly given by Erin Helyard), add up to pure joy. The slow movement is mesmeric, a jewel among jewels, and special mention is due to Matthew Jennejohn’s oboe for his soul-speaking eloquence. The finale is bright as a button.


Finally, “No. 12,” the one that mirrors the dark scoring of the real No. 6, makes quite a powerful way to end the disc. The ghost of stately dance informs the first movement (BWV 163), and all praise is accorded to the players, whose wondrous articulation and true awareness of the musical landscape makes for a memorable journey. The counterpoint of the finale is a joy to experience.


The effect of this disc is fascinating, and possibly just as important, invigorating. The sheer zest of these performances is irresistible, and heard in a clean, focused recording such as this (but with no hint of dryness), there is little doubt this disc is bound to bring much joy. The ethos behind it is more sound than it may appear on first glance, too. Arrangements such as these were the norm in Bach’s time, of course, and there is almost the feel of musical creation as the performances take place. The more I thought about it, the more my initial doubts about this disc evaporated. Remarkable.

Colin Clarke - Fanfare