Bach: The Brandenburgs

Jacques Loussier Trio

Bach The Brandenburgs
  • Release Date: 24 Oct 2006
  • Label: TELARC
  • Genre: JAZZ
  • CAT # 83644-25

    1. Bach: Concerto No. 1 In F Major: I. (Allegro) 1:54
    2. Bach: Concerto No. 1 In F Major: II. Adagio 2:58
    3. Bach: Concerto No. 1 In F Major: III. Allegro 2:34
    4. Bach: Concerto No. 2 In F Major: I. (Allegro) 2:39
    5. Bach: Concerto No. 2 In F Major: II. Andante 3:11
    6. Bach: Concerto No. 2 In F Major: III. Allegro Assai 3:03
    7. Bach: Concerto No. 3 In G Major: I. (Allegro) 2:30
    8. Bach: Concerto No. 3 In G Major: II. Adagio 1:54
    9. Bach: Concerto No. 3 In G Major: III. Allegro 2:19
    10. Bach: Concerto No. 4 In G Major: I. Allegro 4:54
    11. Bach: Concerto No. 4 In G Major: II. Andante 3:17
    12. Bach: Concerto No. 4 In G Major: III. Presto 2:39
    13. Bach: Concerto No. 5 In D Major: I. Allegro 6:19
    14. Bach: Concerto No. 5 In D Major: II. Affettuoso 5:37
    15. Bach: Concerto No. 5 In D Major: III. Allegro 7:10
    16. Bach: Concerto No. 6 In B-Flat Major: I. (Allegro) 2:15
    17. Bach: Concerto No. 6 In B-Flat Major: II. Allegro 3:18
    18. Bach: Concerto No. 6 In B-Flat Major: III. Adagio Ma Non Tanto 1:50

For more than four decades, pianist Jacques Loussier has maintained a long and prolific association with Johann Sebastian Bach. As the frontman in the world renowned Play Bach Trio from 1960 until the late 1970s, Loussier and company explored the infinite complexities of Bach’s music and reinterpreted it through a distinctive jazz filter. After a brief retirement from live performance, he assembled the Jacques Loussier Trio in the mid-1980s with bassist Vincent Charbonnier (later replaced by Benoit Dunoyer de Segonzac) and drummer André Arpino, and expanded his jazz interpretations to include a range of classical composers. Bach: The Brandenburgs, the Jacques Loussier Trio’s latest installment in an acclaimed catalog of Telarc recordings, marks the trio’s tenth anniversary on the label and a return to Loussier’s roots in the Bach canon. Originally composing the six concertos for the Margrave of Brandenburg between 1708 and 1720, Bach hoped that the works might lead to his employment at this small, mid-European court. The music, which featured a variety of instruments in solo roles, with a string orchestra and continuo, gave a brilliant impression of Bach’s dazzling virtuosity as a composer, and drew together music that he had composed over the previous twelve years. The Brandenburg orchestra, however, was probably not up to the job of playing the music. As far as any historian knows, the music was never acknowledged by or performed for the Margrave. The central piece in the collection was – and continues to be – Concerto No. 5, written for flute, violin and harpsichord as solo instruments, and packed with memorable themes. Longtime fans of Loussier will know that not only has this piece been a staple in his current trio’s repertoire, but that his Play Bach Trio recorded an orchestral version of the music in the 1960s. “Making this new recording brings me back to my roots, in interpreting the music of J.S. Bach with my trio,” says Loussier, who joined Telarc with the 1996 release of Jacques Loussier Plays Bach. “But whereas my older recordings were about adding to Bach, this record is about reducing his music to its essence, taking the main themes and working with them as any jazz musician might in playing a theme, an improvisation, and a return to the theme. Because No. 5 was written for the harpsichord, and works so brilliantly as keyboard music, we have made this performance into the focus of the album, and it is perhaps our most profound treatment of any of the concerti, because it has evolved in live performance with the trio over many years.” For years, though, Loussier has generally refrained from tackling Bach’s other five Brandenburg Concertos, in large part because they were not written for keyboard. Yet he does come up with some ingenious solutions on this recording to the longstanding instrumentation puzzle. For example, the baroque regularity of the final movement of No. 2 has now been repositioned over an insistent drum beat and ground bass more like Ravel’s “Bolero,” with completely new tonal coloring. Some high bass harmonics and triangle help set the opening of No. 4 in a context that hints at the flute orchestration of the original. The third movement of No. 3 retains the metronomic regularity of the written part of Loussier’s right-hand statement of the theme, but it sits in a very open framework until it finishes with Arpino’s dashing brushwork and de Segonzac’s walking bass, in a style reminiscent of Loussier’s earliest recordings. But Loussier maintains that the piece on this Bach recording that best represents Loussier Trio is Brandenburg Concerto No. 1. “To me, this quite short piece is the essence of our style, combining Bach with some passages of jazz, and letting the trio develop as an improvising group. We let the slow movement develop almost like a ballad, and then Andre and Benoit trade ideas in the final section before I bring back Bach’s original theme. I’ve cut back on the original, but I think that here, and in the rest of the set, we’ve truly captured the spirit of the music.”

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