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CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Concerto in G, for organ, strings and continuo, Wq 164 (H 444) (1755) [24:04]
Concerto in E flat, for organ, strings, two horns and continuo, Wq 165 (H 446) (1759) [17:56]
Prelude in D, for organ, Wq 70/7 (H 107) [4:30]
Fantasy and Fugue in C minor, Wq 119/7 [5:40]
Roland Münch (organ)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Chamber Orchestra/Hartmut Haenchen
rec. Zur Frohen Botschaft Church, Karlshorst, Berlin, September 1985. DDD

Experience Classicsonline

As the recording date suggests, this CD is a re-issue, originally published by Capriccio in 1987 and re-released most recently in 2004 as part of their 12 CD 'CPE Bach Edition' of symphonies, concertos, keyboard music, flute sonatas and vocal music (C49367). Phoenix have in fact already re-issued most of the discs in that set already this summer in this, their own 'CPE Bach Edition'. They have concentrated on a design facelift: the booklets have attractive old school covers, clean blockish layouts and even a colour photo printed on the discs themselves. Admittedly the perfunctory liner-notes are nothing to get excited about, but generally speaking the CDs each create a good impression.
When it first came out, this particular recording won a Deutscher Schallplattenpreis (now the ECHO Prize), an industry award that was fully deserved. Nowadays Hartmut Haenchen is still artistic director of the CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra, which has gone on to build up a superb reputation for musicianship. It may appear to be stating the obvious that the orchestra specialises in 18th century repertoire, but it did in fact start out as a new music ensemble!
Roland Münch plays the Migend organ at the Zur Frohen Botschaft Church in Berlin. The instrument is also known as the Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia organ, after the royal who commissioned Johann Migend to build it in 1753. It was completed in 1756 and then moved to another Berlin church following Amalia's death. It moved a few more times for various reasons, before finally finding a home in Karlshorst in 1960. The organ has a good sound, and has been well recorded here, optimally balanced with the orchestra and harpsichord continuo, and with negligible background noise. Incidentally, the CD does not confirm that this is a DDD recording, but the original Capriccio cover does.
The two Organ Concertos have been surprisingly infrequently recorded as such, due in part to the fact that CPE was more of a general keyboardist than a dedicated organist, and wrote these works to be played on more or less any kind of keyboard - even, in the case of the G major work, on a flute! Consequently, the concertos are far more likely to be recorded by harpsichordists, yet they sound magnificent as organ works, impressively but not excessively virtuosic, packed with typically Emanuelian elegance, variety, depth, controlled excitement and invention.
The brilliant Prelude in D, Wq 70/7 (H 107) and Fantasy and Fugue in C minor, Wq 119/7 help fill out the disc, although they still leave it very short. The Symphonies were poorly distributed over two CDs in the original Capriccio releases - a couple could have gone on here and the rest would all have fitted on a single disc. The Fantasy and Fugue is listed in New Grove under Helm 75.5, not as here under H 103, which appears not to exist. The Packard Humanities Institute's new edition of Emanuel's complete works, entitled - yes - Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works, should sort out such discrepancies.
A fine disc in every regard except length.
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