Bach's Brandenburg Concertos
This March, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will perform the entire collection of J.S. Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos for the first time, featuring several DSO musicians as soloists. Here’s what they had to say about this special event:
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT THIS PERFORMANCE?
Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe: The Brandenburg Concertos are an incredible collection of the most beautiful music ever written, and there’s so much solo material for every single performer on the stage. The audience will hear each instrument in stunning and virtuosic detail.
David Buck, Principal Flute: Aside from the fact that it’s an opportunity to hear some of the finest chamber music ever written, it’s significant for me personally because this will be my first time performing in a complete Brandenburg cycle in one evening!
TELL US SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PART.
Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe: In Brandenburg 1, Bach gave the oboe the most glorious solo line in the slow movement, then three oboes and horns come together to create an incredible contrast of outdoorsy dance music. There’s just nothing else like it!
Nathan Olson, Co-Concertmaster: Bach was a master at using scales and arpeggios to ornament harmonies and complement other solo parts in an exciting way.
Ryan Anthony, Principal Trumpet: The trumpet part is the highest solo part written for trumpet from the Baroque era, requiring the ability to play in extremely high registers for long periods of time. This style of playing was special and not common for players of this time or the modern era.
HOW IS THIS MUSIC PERFORMED DIFFERENTLY FROM STANDARD ORCHESTRAL REPERTOIRE?
Nathan Olson, Co-Concertmaster: As string players, we have to change our playing technique substantially in order to perform this music effectively and in the correct style. On our modern equipment, we have to make adjustments to try to match the lighter style of the time.
Ryan Anthony, Principal Trumpet: To perform this concerto demands a different physical way of playing separate from anything else – requiring almost completely new way of learning to play and practice. The payoff is one of the greatest pieces of music and pure fun working with colleagues on a musical masterpiece in a way unusual for trumpet players.
David Buck, Principal Flute: Music was much more improvisatory during the early 18th century, and Baroque performers typically had a great deal of discretion to make interpretive decisions. Playing Bach well really requires a depth of understanding that only comes with a lifetime of study.