STAUNTON, Va. — Written nearly 300 years ago, Johann Sebastian Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos continue to amaze, and are now considered his most popular work. For centuries, these exuberant concertos have delighted and captivated audiences with their complex compositional arrangements.
Now…imagine hearing these Baroque works on period instruments, just as Bach himself would have heard them.
Fortunately, you don’t need to time travel to experience the magic. This summer – in the span of a single day, August 19th – Staunton Music Festival will present the collective Brandenburg Concertos on period instruments, and in an acoustic setting not unlike it was originally intended.
Bach’s robust scoring typifies the Baroque concerto grosso in which a small group of solo instruments emerge from and recede back into the full orchestral texture. “These pieces are perfect for an intimate chamber music environment,” says Jason Stell, Executive Director of the Staunton Music Festival, adding that ticket holders are invited to a free pre-concert talk at 6:30 pm. “Bach’s intent was largely to sum up all he could achieve with different, unique pairings of instruments. It’s all about the color of the sound.”
This exquisite musical experience takes place only on Friday, August 19th, at the Baroque Inside/Out concert that includes arias and choruses by Bach, as well as four of the Brandenburg Concertos.
- Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, which features three oboes, two horns, one bassoon and the rarely heard violino piccolo among its soloists
- Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, featuring valveless trumpet, recorder, oboe and violin
- Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, taking numerology to a whole new level (3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, 3 movements)
- Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, where the harpsichord veers off onto wild flights of fancy, but solo violin and flute certainly hold their own
Brandenburg Concertos No. 4 (featuring violin and 2 recorders) and No. 6 (scored for mostly lower strings) can be heard earlier in the day at the free Bach at Noon concert. Both performances occur in the stunning setting of Trinity Episcopal Church, home to 21 Staunton Music Festival concerts this August.
Staunton Music Festival maintains one of the finest performance collections of early keyboards anywhere on the East Coast. To witness four harpsichords, two fortepianos, and two organs in repertoire – look into the “Early Keyboard Extravaganza” concert on August 16th. That evening’s program includes concertos by JS Bach, Mozart, and Mendelssohn, and works by CPE Bach, Böhm, and Takemitsu.