Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bachiana: Double Concertos

Musica Antiqua convey vitality and character to rarities from four of Bach’s sons.

This is the second ‘Bachiana’ disc from Musica Antiqua Köln, a concept which draws its inspiration from Bach documents and especially the rediscovery in 2000 of the old Berlin Singakademie archive. Yet, as ever with Goebel, the integrity of the programme and its effective conveying of Bach’s forbears and contemporaries is the primary raison d’être. Two generations on from the ubiquitous guilds of 17th-century Bach craftsmen – from Bach’s elders to his progeny – these double concertos reveal the diverse compositional artistry of his four prodigious sons.

Johann Christian, the ‘London Bach’, is presented here as the grand entertainer, a congenial presence but whose Sinfonia Concertante inA major receives a disappointingly astringentreading; the solo cellist especially struggles to beguile, and intonation is not all it should be either. JCB’s virtues are better rendered in CPO’s series with Anthony Halstead and the Hanover Band.

Considerably more interesting is Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s Flute Concerto, a product of the new cache of 2000. The second movement is a fine, extended largo which displays WFB’s notable capacity for drawing on his father’sdistillation of ‘enlightenment’ gesture (such as in the Musical Offering and Triple Concerto) but also as a bold and true proprietor of the new Emfindsamkeit (‘sensitivity’). It could be argued that WFB never quite realised his potential despite all the advantages he enjoyed as the eldest son. There is indeed a lurking poignancy in much of his music, one which the flautist, Verena Fischer, is supremely alert to in theintimacy and vulnerability she brings to the largo. She also sparkles appropriately in thedialogues of the outer movements.

Musica Antiqua convey equal vitality and character to the two most striking rarities here. JCF Bach’s double concerto for fortepiano and viola appears as a prototype symphony with important solo interjections. Melodically unexceptional, it is nevertheless stylish in a jejune way. CPE Bach – the most iconoclastic of the sons – successfully combines the prevailing keyboard instruments of the day, harpsichord and fortepiano. Fingers fly with aplomb – and no little mischief – as one is left to ponder the impact of this last Bach generation on Mozart and Beethoven, with whom there were (and are) of course many significant connections. Goebel provides a historical wake-up call. -- Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone [7/2003]

MP3 320 · 172 MB

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