Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: Brandenburg Concertos

Harris Theater for Music and Dance

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In a Nutshell

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents all six of Bach’s richly textured Brandenburg concertos

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Promotional value expires Dec 17, 2015. Limit 8/person. Valid only for option purchased. Redeem 12/17 for a ticket at venue box office. Refundable only on day of purchase. Must purchase together to sit together. Discount reflects merchant's current ticket prices, which may change. ADA seating cannot be guaranteed. Contact box office prior to purchase for availability. Ticket value includes all fees. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.

The Deal

  • $17.50 for section D seating (up to $41 value)
  • $27.50 for section C seating (up to $61 value)
  • $35 for section B seating (up to $76 value)
  • $47.50 for section A seating (up to $101 value)
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Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos, Nos. 1–6

In 1721 Johann Sebastian Bach presented Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg with a gift—if that’s what you call it when someone never pays you for something. When Bach sent over a bound manuscript, it was likely a job application of sorts, with the six spirited concertos designed to impress or curry favor with the powerful man. It didn’t work, though—Margrave never thanked, paid, or hired Bach. That was, perhaps, a pretty lousy decision on his part.

The six concertos were intended to be performed as a set, containing within them a dramatic arc, a lively musical chase through page after page of virtuosic chamber music. Each calls on a different collection of instruments, including a number of challenging solos, and each has a character all its own.

  • Brandenburg Concerto No. 1: Like many of Bach’s compositions, the first concerto is deeply influenced by Vivaldi and other Italian composers. However, there’s one element that stands out: hunting horns, which make a resonant contrast to the wind instruments that fill the score.
  • Brandenburg Concerto No. 2.: Bach’s position as a Kapellmeister (music director) in Coethen allowed him to compose with musical virtuosos in mind, and in this concerto, he pushes a trumpet soloist to soar through shimmering flourishes.
  • Brandenburg Concerto No. 3: The composer’s fascination with the Italian style comes through again in this concerto, which alternates between small groups of soloists and the full ensemble to become a dynamic musical conversation.
  • Brandenburg Concerto No. 4: As with the second concerto, the fourth in the series offers a worthy challenge for musicians, here daring the violinist to climb to ever-greater heights.
  • Brandenburg Concerto No. 5: Again Bach pushes a soloist to command every bit of their skill—and this time, the soloist was himself. The composer usually played viola, but here he switched to harpsichord, and according to NPR’s Performance Today, “gave it a knock-out part and, in the process, invented the modern keyboard concerto.”
  • Brandenburg Concerto No. 6: Thumbing his nose at convention, Bach wrote the most difficult parts in the suite’s final concerto for viola and cello, letting the violins fall silent. While this may have sprung simply from the composer’s desire to experiment, there’s a more practical theory: his employer, Prince Leopold, played the viola himself.
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