The Brandenburg Duets

$10.00

“The existing Piano Duet transcription of the Brandenburg Concertos proved to be of no avail to musicians so I felt compelled to create an accessible arrangement, one that could place these masterpieces into the heart of the piano-four-hands repertoire next to Mozart’s Sonatas and Schubert’s works. By recording the Brandenburg Duets, I hope to attract fresh attention to the art of partnership on one keyboard and to inspire amateur and professional pianists alike to engage in music-making of the highest order. We can never have too much Bach.” – Eleonor Bindman

Unlike the only published piano duet arrangement by Max Reger, which has serious performance limitations, Eleonor Bindman’s new transcription of the Brandenburg Concertos highlights their polyphony, imagining how Bach might have distributed the score if he had created four-part inventions for piano duet. With an equal partnership between the two instrumentalists, using the modern piano’s full potential to convey the unique scoring and character of each work, the concertos are ordered to create an engaging listening sequence.

Explore the Brandenburg Duets Project Page

Tracks:

CD 1 BRANDENBURG DUET NO. 1 IN F MAJOR (19:04)
    1. I. Allegro moderato (04:30)
    2. II. Adagio (03:29)
    3. III. Allegro (04:14)
    4. IV. Menuetto – Trio I – Polacca – Trio II (06:44)
BRANDENBURG DUET NO. 3 IN G MAJOR (10:23)
    1. I. Allegro moderato – II. Adagio (06:47)
    2. III. Allegro (03:33)
BRANDENBURG DUET NO. 5 IN D MAJOR (21:47)
  1. I. Allegro (10:02)
  2. II. Affettuoso (05:56)
  3. III. Allegro (05:44)
CD 2 BRANDENBURG DUET NO. 6 IN B FLAT MAJOR (17:05)
    1. I. Moderato (08:13)
    2. II. Adagio ma non tanto (03:32)
    3. III. Allegro (05:14)
BRANDENBURG DUET NO. 4 IN G MAJOR (16:16)
    1. I. Allegro (07:27)
    2. II. Andante (03:52)
    3. III. Allegro (04:51)
BRANDENBURG DUET NO. 2 IN F MAJOR (11:41)
  1. I. Allegro (05:02)
  2. II. Andante (03:39)
  3. III. Allegro (02:54)

Liner Notes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUtKadlPwDY&list=PLsnj5ieX975dj8W06yLqTb0g2-oPMH7L0 My main goal was to create a transcription which highlighted the polyphony, imagining how Bach might have distributed the score if he intended to create 4-part inventions for Piano Duet. Doubling the cello/bass part in octaves, as Reger did, made no sense because it kept both hands of Secondo occupied and resulted in excessively bottom-heavy sonorities. Likewise, throwing all of the treble parts together in the Primo – violins, violas, oboes, solo french horns, flutes or trumpet plus the harpsichord - rendered the part unplayable at any decent tempo and hid the counterpoint in clusters of chords. To return to Baroque sensibilities, the individual lines had to be clear to the eye of the performer in order to be clear to the ear of listener. Since the fast movements of the Concertos usually have at least 4 voices intertwining and because more than 3 voices in polyphony become harmony in effect, some incidental parts could be omitted without any harm done to the integrity of the music. Using the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra’s “chamber” sound as a point of reference, i was able to restore the hierarchy and balance of the parts. At the same time, secondary string lines which may not be clearly audible in the orchestral version now sounded more distinctl on the keyboard. This approach helped give Bach’s magnificent texture the desired clarity for an elegant new translation. Equal partnership of the pianists was another vital need in conveying the nature of Bach’s material and it resulted naturally from the polyphonic approach discussed above. In a Concerto Grosso, the sound should be fused in the Tutti sections and divided into threads for the solos. When different instruments, such as the flute and the violin, have simultaneous solos, we have no trouble hearing two voices. On the keyboard, however, the easiest way to give the lines different expression is to assign them to different people. The Piano Duet medium presents equally effective possibilities of either blending or differentiating the sound each performer produces. In the present arrangement, Secondo is always given an opportunity to fully indulge in beautiful melodic lines and the Duet partners execute frequent hand-crossings and other logistical adjustments which go with the piano-4-hands territory and make the collaborative experience even more enjoyable. These thematic exchanges enhance the momentum of the slower movements, as in the Andante of Brandenburg Duet #1 where Secondo takes the lead in the sublime oboe and violin duet.… Read more on the Brandenburg Duets Project page Download the Booklet Notes

Reviews:

“What Bindman and Lin achieve as a dual partnership… is breathtaking in its sheer precision and vitality.… Created well in time before the 300th anniversary of the Brandenburg Concertos, the young talents of the piano world will now dive into what could eventually be standard repertoire for piano duos.” Donald Hunt, Pianist Magazine
“Bindman’s transcriptions have a clarity and a cleanliness that Reger’s lack, although Bindman’s and Lin’s playing no doubt also is a contributing factor.… I can’t say that I enjoyed hearing this any less than I enjoy hearing Bach’s originals. … I will be interested to see if the appearance of Bindman’s transcriptions in print will attract other musicians.… I think they can help us to hear these familiar works in new ways, and to gain a new understanding of them. For those reasons, I think they are valid, and Bindman and Lin make a great case for them.” Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare Magazine
“With an equal collaboration between the two instrumentalists, using the full potential of the modern piano, to convey the unique writing and character of each concerto, the six concertos by both pianists Eleanor Bindman and Jenny Lin were arranged ( 1-3-5-6-4-2), that they create a fascinating listening series. Because Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti were never intended to be performed as a continuous series, their order is of little importance. You should not miss this version. It is very original and very, very special. Highly recommended.” Michael Dutrieue, Stretto
“Eleonor Bindman’s new transcription of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos highlights their polyphony, imagining how Bach might have distributed the score if he had created four-part inventions for piano duet.” Lisa Flynn, WFMT Chicago
“…pianists are going to greatly enjoy Eleonor Bindman’s new piano duo arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Brandenburg Concertos. … excellently recorded and immaculately balanced recordings…” David Denton
“…an interesting audible vitality of blending and differentiating voices…[Bindman] achieves a full and interesting sounding score… [The Brandenburg Duets] adds greatly to the two-piano repertoire, which thrives as a four-hand performance –no orchestra necessary.” Ilona Oltuski, GetClassical
“Eleonor Bindman's arrangement is outstanding…Bindman and Jenny Lin really lean in to this freedom, swinging when Bach allows, and never staid or boring when things get more thoughtful or academic. … Though she may have started with purely pedagogical reasons for bringing this music to four hands and a piano keyboard… Bindman and Lin are obviously having too much fun here for it to be just that. And that makes it even more pleasurable for us to listen to.” Dean Frey, Music for Several Instruments
“Eleonor Bindman has done a wonderful job for many musicians with her "Brandenburg Duets" project: a transcription of Bach's Concertos Bach for 4 hands… The result is playfully as fresh and new as authentic and convincing. Balanced in sound, perfectly attuned to each other, the version reveals new sides to these works, and the pianists equally do justice to the solos as well as the tutti with four hands, so that it would be a real pleasure for Bach. The hope is to see the transcription published by 2020 in musical form - it would be a stroke of luck for the four-hand repertoire and its lovers. A wonderful recording.” —Piano News
“I really enjoyed listening…the transcriptions are marvelous.” —Simone Dinnerstein
“Only pianists of the highest caliber could deliver these performances. Nothing I heard in these arrangements seemed out of place, and the phrasing and dynamic shaping of the lines were exceptional.… complete and very musical. It will give you a fresh look at some of Bach’s greatest works in piano arrangements that work quite well.” —James Harrington, American Record Guide
“Bindman’s transcription of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos is a significant accomplishment. It reflects Bach’s writing more than Reger’s romanticized arrangement by preserving the interaction between the varied soloists of the original pieces and by reserving the force of the piano’s bass for interpretive impact. Bindman also achieves her goal of making both piano parts equally engaging to play. Debuting The Brandenburg Duets through this exceptional recording, rather than through a published score, not only exhibits the insightfulness of Bindman’s decisions in preparing the arrangement, but also serves as an excellent vehicle to promote this much-needed contemporary transcription.” —Krystal J. F. Grant, International Alliance for Women in Music Journal
“Do you really need a new edition of more than 1000 original compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach? Certainly - but only if it is as brilliant as Eleonor Bindman’s new transcription for four-hand piano of the famous "Brandenburg Concertos". The Latvian-American pianist has succeeded in writing a version that focuses on the polyphony of the six concertos. The result is the "Brandenburg Duets", which Bindman recorded together with pianist Jenny Lin. The recordings are as successful as the arrangements themselves. The two pianists are remarkably precise, literally melting together, yet pleasantly relaxed and with unmistakable joy in playing. The original character of the compositions remains, while at the same time they acquire new facets through the sound of the modern piano.” —Sal, Kulturnews