Brandenburg #5 by Bach
Whatever. Goldberg Variations kicks #5's ass any day of the week.
Bunner.... I'm calling you out on this one.
As Glenn Gould so CLEARLY, TERSELY, AND LYRICALLY wrote on the liner notes to his version of the Goldberg's,
[i]Briefly, for those who may not be acquainted with this, the story concerns a commission which was tended to Bach by a Count Kaiserling, the Russian ambassador to the Saxon court, who had as his musician-in-service Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, one of the master's most accomplished pupils. Kaiserling, it seems, was frequently troubled with insonia, and requested Bach to write some reposeful keyboards pieces which Goldberg could perform as a soporific. If the treatment was a success we are left with some doubt as to the authenticity of Master Goldberg's rendition of this incisive and piquant score. And though we harbour no illusion as to Bach's workmanlike indifference to the restrictions imposed upon his artist's prerogative, it is difficult to imagine that even Kaiserling's 40 Louis d'or could induce his interest in an otherwise distasteful form.
The most casual acquaintance with this work -- a first hearing, or a brief glance at the score -- will manifest the baffling incongruity between the imposing dimensions of the variations and unassuming Sarabands which conceived them. Indeed, one hears so frequently of the bewilderment which the formal outline of this piece engenders among the uninitiated who become entangled in the luxuriant vegetation of the Aria'a familiy tree that it might be expedient to examine more closely the generative root in order to determine, with all delicacy, of course, its aptitude for parental responsibility.
We are accustomed to consider at least one of two prerequisites indispensable to an Aria for variations, -- a theme with a melodic curve which veritably entreats ornamentation, Though there are abundant examples of the former procedure from the Renaissance to the present day, it flourishes through the theme-and-elaborative-variation concept of the roccoco. The later method, which, by stimulating linear inventiveness, suggests a certain analogy with the passacaille style of reiterated bass progression, is strikingly portrayed by Beethoven's 32 variations in C minor.
However, the vast majority of significant contributions to this form cannot be accurately allotted to either of these general classifications, which, to be sure rather describe the extremities of the working premise of the variation idea wherein the coalescence of these qualities constitutes the real challenge to the composer's inventive power.[/i]
Clearly a soporific should NOT be used as a locker room anthem whereas Brandenburg #5 not only uses 7 instruments (suggesting teamwork to the Goldberg's singular use of the harpsichord) but because it is a concerto it has 2 - count 'em - 2 allegro sections! That gets the blood pumping man.