La Petite Bande recorded its set during the late 1970s and these are performances which do considerable justice to the music. Brisker tempos, lighter bass string playing and an altogether more imaginative approach to continuo realization bring these concertos alive to an extent hardly realised by I Musici. Sigiswald Kuijken, the leader and director of La Petite Bande, includes a theorbo in his continuo group and this is invariably an effective addition. Both sets field a secure and lively concertino group of two violins, cello and continuo but listeners may well find that the warmer sound and greater degree of finesse provided by the concertino of I Musici is more to their liking than the thinner, wirier textures of the other. Having said that, I should add that in matters of baroque style, as in its more highly developed spirit of fantasy, La Petite Bande offers far and away the more satisfying performances.
Claudio Abbado isn't a name one associates with early music, in light of his impressive career conducting the masterworks of the Romantic and modern eras. Indeed, he didn't conduct any music by J.S. Bach with the Berlin Philharmonic until as late as 1994. Yet when he's leading the talented Orchestra Mozart of Bologna in Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, his ease with the music and his players is obvious, and the performances have almost as much Baroque style as many versions by period ensembles of greater longevity. Abbado led this ensemble in all six Brandenburgs in 2007 at the Teatro Municipale Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilio, and the live performances were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon with close attention to details, as befits chamber music.