'Brandenburg' Concerto No. 5 in D major

'Brandenburg' Concerto No. 5 in D major

BWV 1050 performed by the Netherlands Bach Society
conducted by Shunske Sato
TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

  • Menu
  • 1. Allegro
  • 2. Adagio (affettuoso)
  • 3. Allegro

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

In the sunlight

The harpsichord emerges as a solo instrument

In March 1721, Bach sent a manuscript from Köthen to Berlin entitled ‘Six concertos with several instruments’ (Six concerts avec plusieurs instruments), dedicated to Christian Ludwig (1677-1734), Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt. In the preface, Bach stated that he had played for the margrave ‘a couple of years ago’ and had promised to send him ‘some of his compositions’. That was probably during a visit to Berlin in March 1719, when Bach had travelled to the Prussian capital to take receipt of a new harpsichord for the court in Köthen. The music that he sent to the margrave a couple of years later (which subsequently became known as the 'Brandenburg' Concertos) was Bach’s ultimate view of the most important large-scale instrumental genre of his day: the concerto.

A concerto nearly always involves a solo instrument (or combination of solo instruments) and an ensemble. The key idea is the alternation between one or more soloists and the whole ensemble, in a sort of light-hearted competition. In the six 'Brandenburg' Concertos, Bach explores every facet of this genre, with regard to both instrumentation and the way in which he handles the form. All the traditionally used string and wind instruments appear as soloists. And in this Fifth Concerto the harpsichord emerges as a soloist rather than an accompanying instrument.

In this performance, an early version (BWV 1050a) of this cadence is played, which is shorter than the later version. Both versions share some of the same material, that recalls the character of certain youthful fantasias by Bach (such as the Chromatic Fantasia). If the longer version (BWV 1050) compensates for the almost stormy material with a long introduction full of light and a conclusion full of hope, this shorter version (BWV 1050a) has unique passages, such as those dizzying chromatic descending scales, difficult to find in other works by Bach.

Concerto in D major
'Brandenburg' Concerto no. 5
harpsichord, traverso, violin
orchestral works
Brandenburg concertos
Köthen (but possibly earlier in Weimar)
Dedicated in 1721 to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg

Extra videos

Musicians on Brandenburg concertos

“In the Brandenburg concertos there's a certain equality between the strings, brass, winds. Everyone has a very important role to play.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    12 May 2022
  • Recording date
    2 October 2018
  • Location
    TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht
  • Violin and direction
    Shunske Sato
  • Harpsichord
    Diego Ares
  • Traverso
    Marten Root
  • Violin 2
    Anneke van Haaften
  • Viola
    Staas Swierstra
  • Cello
    Lucia Swarts
  • Double bass
    Robert Franenberg
  • Director and editor
    Lucas van Woerkum
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Robert Berger, Nina Badoux, Joas Burggraaf, Jasper Gheluwe
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot
  • Assistant director
    Stijn Berkhouwer
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Set technique
    Alex de Gier
  • Project manager videobrix
    Peter Hazenberg
  • Producer concert
    Marco Meijdam
  • Producer film
    Jessie Verbrugh

'Brandenburg' Concerto no. 5 in D major

Two versions of 'Brandenburg' Concerto no. 5 have been recorded. An earlier version (BWV 1050a) and a later version (BWV 1050). You can view both recordings here.

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