The years 1717-1723, when Bach was in the employ of Prince Leopold at the court at Cöthen, were particularly productive for Bach and some of his best known music dates from this time: the Brandenburg Concertos, the violin concertos and the four suites for orchestra are examples of the composer at his most inspired.
The Brandenburg Concertos represent a pinnacle in the history of the Baroque Concerto, as well as being among the most universally admired of all Bach’s works. He wrote this group of six popular concerti grossi on a commission from the Margrave of Brandenburg, hence the title. At the time Bach was employed at Cöthen as Kapellmeister to Prince Leopold.
The Orchestral Suites are modelled on the French style which was very popular in the courts of Germany around the 1720s. Each suite begins with an overture which is followed by a series of dances, all with French titles.
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields was founded in 1959 by Sir Neville Marriner and a group of London's leading orchestral players. Originally formed as a small conductorless string group, it spearheaded the 1960s Baroque revival, and has recorded and performed a rapidly expanding range of repertoire with Sir Neville, with over 500 recordings to its credit.