Every Monday morning I tootle off to my gym to partake in a Spinning Class. For you sensible people who don’t know what Spinning is, it is an extremely vigorous exercise class where everybody is riding a stationary bicycle. In short it is complete and utter hell and the only time in my life nowadays whereby time stands still. 45 minutes feels like eternity . Today was particularly hellish as I had had a fairly social weekend with bouts of recovering on the sofa watching Modern Family (my guilty secret) and Sopranos (totally gripping). About five minutes into the class as I feel like I am cycling up the face of a cliff, I question why I am going through this hell only to remind myself that it is supposed to be good for me and later on, when I stop feeling sick, I will feel good and virtuous. I am still dreading next week’s class though.
After a morning like that I can’t listen to anything too heavy so the Bach Brandenburg Concertos would fit the bill.
These are six concertos which were written between 1711 and 1721. They were written whilst Bach was in the employ of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen but were composed for the Margrave of Brandenburg, for whom he wanted to work.
Rather than the usual concerto format of solo instrument and orchestra, Bach balances combinations of instruments against each other. So each concerto focuses on different groups of instruments.
The clever thing about Bach’s music is that whilst the academics love and relish the complexities of his music, equally one can easily know absolutely nothing and just enjoy them for what they are - beautiful music. Perfect for a Sunday morning, or when you don’t want to tax the brain.
There are literally thousands of recordings of these works. But the recording I am going to recommend is by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Neville Marriner. They are a touring and recording chamber orchestra who specialise in music from the Baroque and Classical era.
The good recordings of these concertos are always mixed with other Bach works, so for value for money this is a good buy. Alternatively you could download just one of the concertos (they are very short), my favorite is No 3.
Watch Concerto No 3 on youtube (not the recommended recording)
Download from iTunes
Buy from Amazon