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26 June, 2013

C.P.E. Bach
Recommended Recordings



Flute Concertos
(Martin Feinstein; Feinstein Ensemble)
As we continue to celebrate the glory of J.S. Bach, his greatest musical son has been overshadowed. This record is a timely reminder of the man about whom Mozart himself said: "He is the father, we are the children. Those of us who know anything at all learned it from him." What they learned from Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was symphonic form. If these flute concertos echo Vivaldi--his father Johann Sebastian's hero--they also look forward to Mozart and beyond. As official harpsichordist to Frederick the Great, C.P.E. Bach may have begun these works with him in mind--the king was a keen flutist--but their virtuosity suggests that they were written for a much abler player, probably the great Johann Joachim Quantz. Martin Feinstein's performances are exemplary, and his period band (playing on modern instruments) brings out the exuberance of the fast movements and the mournful grandeur of the slow ones. (review by Michael Church)

Solo Keyboard Music Vol 1
(Miklós Spányi)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was more famous in his lifetime than was his father, and his reputation largely rests on his keyboard music. There are more than 60 keyboard concertos, and even more sonatas and short pieces of various types. Miklos Spanyi is involved in an ongoing survey of the complete concertos, so it is only logical that he should also take on the solo works as well. C.P.E. Bach's music is impulsive, surprising, and frequently very emotional, with extensive use of minor keys. The Prussian Sonatas are early works, dating from the 1740s, which accounts for the clavichord as instrument of choice. Spanyi is a powerful advocate of the music, playing with exemplary taste and virtuosity. --David Hurwitz

Symphonies Wq 173-175, 178, 180
(Ludger Rémy; Les Amis de Philippe)
If you asked a music-lover in Haydn or Mozart's time about the works of Bach, you would have been referring to CPE, and not his dad, the great JS, whose reputation was merely that of a great organist and sometime composer of "historical" music. Not only was CPE universally admired in his lifetime, he also wrote the definitive treatise on contemporary keyboard technique (it's still in use today), collected fine art, and left a superb body of music to future generations. The symphonies are really exciting pieces full of unpredictable turns of phrase and a genuinely passionate emotional expression. These excellent performances make the best possible case for them. (review by David Hurwitz)

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